Winter is biting hard in austerity-hit Greece, but workers are still fighting back.
“Fuel poverty is a real problem in the north,” reports Panos Garganas, editor of the Workers Solidarity newspaper.
“Schools are having to close, because the cuts mean they can’t afford to keep the heating going. And there was a terrible story last week when a small house in the city of Kavala was burned.
“The family was trying to keep warm with an old fashioned wood-fired stove, and it started a fire. Two of the children died. That gives an idea of what fuel poverty is like.”
The capital, Athens, has so far been spared the worst of the weather. But across Greece the fight is on against a new round of cuts agreed last month in exchange for money to bail out banks.
Local government workers led a strike on Wednesday of this week. It followed a four week campaign of strikes, demonstrations and workplace occupations against redundancies.
Now the unions are trying to shift the fight into the courts, after some local courts backed the strikers and ruled the job cuts illegal.
“The fightback in local government is coming to a pause,” said Panos, “but not before new sections of workers have taken up the fightback.
“The government promised the troika that it would collect a huge amount through privatisations, so now it is beginning its attack with a number of sell-offs.
“The first reactions came from railway workers, who struck this week. There was also a 24 hour strike by workers at the postal bank. And the Athens metro workers are striking against further wage cuts.”
Meanwhile momentum is growing in the fight against the fascist Golden Dawn. Athens city council has voted to back a massive anti-fascist demonstration on 19 January.
“Only the right wing New Democracy party didn’t vote to back it,” said Panos. “The whole of the left was united—even the Pasok and Dimar parties that are in the coalition government.”
Two new developments have hardened left unity against the fascists. Last week a “silent demonstration” under the Acropolis, backed by leading international anti-racist figures, put more pressure on the governing parties.
And on Saturday of last week an MP from the radical left coalition Syriza was attacked by three men claiming to be Golden Dawn members. “It was an escalation of fascist provocations—and it was taken up like that by everybody,” said Panos.
Anti-fascists in Greece have called for international solidarity demonstrations on the day. Unite Against Fascism is organising a protest at the Greek embassy in London.
“There have been a series of important mobilisations to stop fascist attacks, and to stop the Nazis translating the votes they got into fascist squads,” said Panos. “So 19 January is an important step and we want to see a show of solidarity with anti-fascists in Greece.
“But the rise of the far right isn't just happening in Greece. It’s happening in France, Hungary and across Europe. So 19 January will be an opportunity to coordinate our anti-fascism.”
To support the day of action on 19 January go to uaf.org.uk/3194