Socialist Worker

First general strike since formation of new government brings Greece to a standstill

by Panos Garganas
Issue No. 2281

Greece was shut down on Thursday by its first general strike since the newly formed coalition government. It was very effective.

There were large demonstrations in Athens, Salonica and also many smaller cities.

So despite the introduction of the “technocrat” coalition government, the message is clear—the resistance continues.

They hoped that the new coalition government would convince people to ignore the call to strike, but that didn’t work.

The demonstrations were not as large as those in October, and that’s something the government and media have tried to play on.

But the reality is it was a successful day of action, despite weak organisation by the unions.

There was nothing as serious at stake this time as in October. That was a high point. People knew the government’s survival was at stake.

It was the far-left who fought to build the demonstrations. There were many anti-government slogans on the demonstration, but no one expected the government to fall after one day of action.

The strike itself was solid. There was no question of strike breaking anywhere.

There were no incidents yesterday—no broken shop windows or tear gas fired.

That’s because the police kept a low profile.

In the past the trouble with the police was the result of tension created by the media and government. But they didn’t want a day of riots just when the government is starting its term. So they restrained the police. It shows that the police caused the violence in the past.

The strike showed that workers are determined to fight back. But in terms of resistance, it’s not just the big days of general strikes. Sections of workers are continuing to fight.

Steel workers have been on strike now for 20 days against mass sackings. They led the demonstration in Athens on Thursday.

The steel workers have received lots of solidarity. Every union has sent messages of support and also money and food.

Workers at the Eleftherotypia newspaper are also on strike for three days, starting on the day of the general strike. They have not been paid since the summer because of financial problems. They have also won a lot of support.

And the trial of 13 power workers and two of their supporters who occupied their offices has been postponed until January. They occupied to stop the government from cutting electricity to poor people.

The postponement is because the government didn’t want to start their term with high profile attacks on trade unionists.

Everyone understands that the trial was postponed to prevent an increase in tension the day before the general strike.

There was also a demonstration and picket outside the constitutional courts on Friday.

The court was due to rule on whether the new taxes imposed by the government are constitutional.


Anti-fascists protested outside the constitutional court on Friday over attempts by the far-right to overturn a law which would grant citizenship to the children of immigrants.

The policy of granting citizenship was introduced by the Pasok Labour-style former government early in its term.

It was a tokenistic law, with many terms and conditions. But the fascist Laos party have tried to make the court recognise it as unconstitutional.

They have recently joined the coalition government and hold ministerial positions, and this gave them confidence that they could get the law scapped.

The courts then announced that they will not rule on it until January.

This was a setback for the fascists—they wanted a quick result.

A demonstration is set to take place tomorrow (Saturday) calling for the fascists to get out of government and also for citizenship rights for the children of immigrants.

This is organised by United Against Racism and the Fascist Threat, and supported by the teachers’ and civil service workers’ trade unions.

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Fri 2 Dec 2011, 17:58 GMT
Issue No. 2281
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