Socialist Worker

Greece - snapshots of workers' struggles (2)

From protests to strikes to workers’ control, resistance to austerity has become part of day to day life in Greece – Socialist Worker photojournalist Guy Smallman reports

Issue No. 2297

A workers’ assembly at occupied newspaper Eleftherotypia. The passionate debate went on for over an hour  (Pics: Smallman )

A workers’ assembly at occupied newspaper Eleftherotypia. The passionate debate went on for over an hour (Pics: Guy Smallman)

Keeping workers fed at Greece’s occupied newspaper Eleftherotypia: ‘It’s solidarity coming out of necessity’

Moisis Litsis, Eleftherotypia journalist and workers’ committee member

“Eleftherotypia used to be the second biggest selling newspaper in all of Greece.

There are 800 of us now who have not been paid since August.

When we took the decision to publish a workers’ version of the newspaper, many of us successfully argued that it should be a full newspaper rather than just a pamphlet about our struggle.

This showed the bosses that we can make the paper without them.

The strike paper has helped us with everything from hardship money to a colleague whose wife was ill and needed medical treatment.

Money has been collected at football matches and by other workers’ groups, and also from the sales of the workers’ newspaper.

This has been turned into food and other supplies, which is being distributed by the union.

It’s a new kind of solidarity out of necessity.

Right now the management is waiting for a court decision. And the company is hoping there will be a new government and it will relax the labour laws.

There is a real fear among some of the journalists about changes to be made by the next government. For this reason, some have left to look for other work.

Recent figures are saying that over 400,000 Greeks are now in a situation like ours, where they are still officially employed but have been unpaid for a long time.

Our union is ensuring that at the very least these striking workers have enough food to eat.”

'Give us the keys for the factory'

Giorgios Sifonios, president of the Halivourgia steelworkers’ union

“Within ten minutes of the first workers here being laid off in October, everyone in the plant downed tools and walked out.

Since then we have had 12 assemblies. We have been struggling for 145 days and we have had solidarity not just from workers in Greece but from across the world.

We have set up five committees to represent the needs of workers throughout the factory. We have committees for women steelworkers and for dealing with the media.

We have one for organising solidarity with other workers’ campaigns, like organising food parcels for example. And we have a committee for the 93 sacked workers.

The government threatened to close the factory permanently. Our response to the minister responsible was: give us the keys to the factory and we’ll run it ourselves. We will continue this strike until the very end.”

Saying no to highway robbery

Alanya is a non-party aligned protest group, born out of the Occupy movement.

It takes direct action against unjust taxes.

On this day they were closing a motorway toll, to the delight of passing drivers.

The government argues that the toll was introduced to pay for the road. But the roads were built years ago and have long been paid for.

'We can run the hospitals'

Chrisos Alguiris, junior doctor

“I am an anti-capitalist doctor. I want our health to be public and for everyone—for immigrants, for the poor, for everyone.

They say we have to pay for the crisis, we are saying it is their responsibility. We say get out of Greece—we will take your banks and your money and your hospitals and run them ourselves. We know how to run a hospital, the politicians don’t.

Each day we have an assembly with all the the hospital workers. We discuss the situation and we vote on how to continue.

We don’t organise each hospital by itself—we organise all together.

We need our unions to work for us. We talk to our leadership and the bureaucrats, we try to engage them in a constant political conversation.

But more importantly we organise with the rank and file. We decide what is best for each hospital, and then we inform the leadership of our decision.

The unions call the strikes, but we organise them.”

Protesters close a motorway toll - to the delight of drivers

Protesters close a motorway toll - to the delight of drivers

Striking health workers march through Athens

Striking health workers march through Athens

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