Socialist Worker

Massive general strike shows power of Greece's workers

Issue No. 2232

On the march in Athens during the general strike

On the march in Athens during the general strike

Greece’s year of struggle hit another high point when the seventh full general strike rocked the country on Wednesday 15 December.

There has been huge resistance to the Pasok Labour-type government’s austerity programme, which is being pushed through at the behest of the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.

“Wednesday’s general strike was big, probably the same size as the one on 5 May—the previous high point,” Panos Garganas, editor of the Workers Solidarity newspaper in Greece, told Socialist Worker.

“Everything was shut. Even the ferry boats, which is under martial law to stop the workers striking, weren’t working. There was no transport across the whole of the country, except for a few hours to take people to strike rallies and demonstrations.

“There were also big demonstrations in the cities and towns, with smaller places having very impressive turnouts. In Athens, the police attacked the protest outside parliament in Syntagma Square, with protesters being hospitalised. People fought back.

“Despite the attacks and the tear gas, sections of the demonstration managed to march past parliament. Demonstrators also beat up a right wing former minister.”

Parliament this week voted through wage cuts, though one Pasok MP refused to back it and was expelled from the party—becoming the fifth MP that the ruling party has thrown out this year.

Workers’ radicalisation is continuing to deepen as the government’s policies get more vicious. This was reflected in the rally at Athens.

“The main rally was divided into two parts—the section of the movement that say the strikes must continue and the official union leadership section,” said Panos. “The radical section was huge, bigger than on 5 May with media and transport workers and teachers.

“There is tremendous pressure on the union leaderships to keep up the strikes. The strikes are continuing, with media workers walking out on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 December, transport workers holding stoppages every day next week and teachers planning a strike on 13 January.

“An anti-racist demonstration will also take place in Athens on 15 January against racist attacks.”

As the anger grows and the crisis intensifies, 2011 looks set to be another hot year of resistance in Greece.

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