Socialist Worker

No ‘summer lull’ in Greek strike wave

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2210

‘Enough is enough! United we can win’ reads a banner on march in Athens during the latest general strike  (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

‘Enough is enough! United we can win’ reads a banner on march in Athens during the latest general strike (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


Greece’s sixth one-day general strike this year stopped the country on Thursday of last week.

The highly successful action targeted the Pasok government’s pension reform bill, which was being voted on in parliament.

This bill plans to raise the retirement age to 65 as part of the onslaught on ordinary people.

The IMF and the European Union are demanding huge cuts in return for a 110 billion euro package to help stave off Greece’s financial crisis.

But workers continue to resist the slashing of their living standards.

Panos Garganas, editor of the newspaper Workers Solidarity told Socialist Worker, “On the day of the strike nothing worked – not even transport.

“This meant it was very ­difficult to get to the centre of Athens to join the strike rally, which wasn’t as big as the one on 5 May.

“But the demonstration was made up of the groups of workers the government will have to confront over the coming weeks to get its plans through.

“At the moment Pasok is relieved because it managed to keep its MPs in line to vote for pension reforms.

“It has pushed attacks through parliament, claiming that they will make the economic situation better. But that is not happening.”

Different

The government hopes that the struggle will quieten down over the summer, when traditionally little happens in Greece. This year things may be different.

Panos said, “The government faces many other confrontations, for instance over privatising the railways and restructuring the public transport companies in Athens.

“It is trying to make it easier to push through cuts in hospitals. The doctors’ unions are talking about five days of continuous strikes to block the bill that would allow this.

“The union federations see a planned protest against the prime minister’s speech at an international fair in Salonica in September as the next big focus.

“Last Monday munitions workers demonstrated outside the ministry of defence. Metro workers struck for 24 hours on Tuesday.

“Local authority workers were calling for symbolic occupations of town halls against the cuts, while the civil service union was planning a stoppage – which will involve hundreds of thousands of workers – and a demonstration on Thursday.

“This is an ordinary week in Athens now! This is the time that should be the ‘summer lull’.

“There will also be an ­anti‑racist demonstration in Athens next week – saying no to austerity and no to racism.”

Opinion polls last weekend showed deep anger.

Burden

One right wing newspaper found that 79 percent of Greeks believe the burden of the government’s programme will be unfairly borne by those least responsible for the country’s economic crisis.

The poll also showed that 72 percent think the government should pursue policies that are more just, while 57 percent think the reforms are aimed mainly at saving the banks and creditors.

Another poll showed 65 ­percent of people believe that neither Pasok nor the right wing New Democracy parties are better at governing the country.


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Article information

International
Tue 13 Jul 2010, 17:56 BST
Issue No. 2210
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