Socialist Worker

World in brief

Issue No. 1873

Police join strikes

TENS OF thousands of public sector workers are in the middle of a major strike wave over pay in Greece. Prime minister Costas Simitis said there is no money for pay rises, in part because of the spiralling cost of next year's Athens Olympics.

The government's curbs on what it calls 'privileged' workers brought striking teachers, doctors, nurses and other public sector groups onto the streets last week. The action by public sector unions provided a focus for wider discontent. Regular police struck and protested for higher bonuses and overtime. Hundreds of them clashed with the paramilitary riot police on Thursday of last week.

Firefighters and coastguards, who come under military discipline, also took to the streets and Athens taxi drivers struck. Further strikes and protests are planned.

Check this out, Arnie

A GLIMPSE of a different kind of California from that championed by Arnold Schwarzenegger came this week. Some 70,000 supermarket workers went on strike across the state. Their UFCW union called the workers out against a plan by supermarket bosses to axe up to $1 billion of workers' healthcare benefits.

In the US many workers are dependent on such benefits to get adequate healthcare. The strike affects 850 stores.

Price hike beaten

WORKERS IN Nigeria have won a victory after threatening a general strike. The government had slashed subsidies on fuel, forcing prices up by some 15 percent. This became a focus for a wider economic 'restructuring' which would have hit the poor hard.

The planned price rises were withdrawn on the eve of the planned strike. Petrol prices are an especially sensitive issue in Nigeria, because there is widespread resentment that oil revenues have done little to help overcome poverty.

Leader on the line

'MY POLITICAL destiny is tied up with the passage of these reforms,' says German leader Gerhard Schröder of his assault on the welfare state.

On Tuesday of this week Schröder and his Green coalition partners agreed to reword a bill and overturn decades of state provision for unemployment and welfare. His finance minister Wolfgang Clement recently said the thrust of the 'reforms' is to end the 'laziness' and 'leisure mentality' of German workers. It was due to be put to parliament on Friday. Schröder's coalition has a four-seat majority-six of his MPs were threatening to vote against.

Whatever happens in parliament, the plan has led to bitter opposition from workers and pensioners.

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Sat 18 Oct 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1873
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