Around 600,000 workers were set to strike against the fascist Golden Dawn on Wednesday of this week—the whole of Greece’s public sector workforce. The strike will be followed by a mass demonstration supported by both main Greek union federations. It follows furious protests last week against the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a member of Golden Dawn. And it comes as part of an escalating strike wave against mass public sector sackings.
Pavlos was attacked late on Tuesday night last week, hours before a public sector strike, in the working class area of Keratsini. His attackers wore the characteristic camouflage and black outfits of Golden Dawn. Witnesses say that he was stabbed twice in the heart and once in the stomach, and that police did nothing to help. A Golden Dawn member later confessed to the murder.
Socialist rapper Loukas Chmielewski told Socialist Worker, “Pavlos was a committed activist who inspired many people with his songs against fascism. “I’ve known him and performed with him for three years. Pavlos always knew there were dangers, but we never thought anything like this could happen.”
Huge strike rallies on Wednesday of last week became a chance to build a response. Petros Constantinou of the anti-racist Keerfa organisation (see below) opened the rally in Athens. He called on people to attend the anti-fascist demonstrations.
“The strike rally was the biggest we have ever seen from public sector workers,” said Panos Garganas, editor of Workers Solidarity newspaper. “It took more than an hour just for the teachers to march past. Then there were civil servants, health workers and students who are supporting strikes in the universities. Pavlos was well-known and well-loved by anti-fascist activists—and well-known and hated by the Nazis too. So there was a lot of anger at his murder.”
There were angry demonstrations across Greece that night and clashes with police. One of the biggest protests was in Keratsini. There was a huge turnout from local people. And it brought together the whole of the left—the Socialist Workers Party, the official opposition Syriza, anarchists, and even a representative of the Greek Communist Party (KKE). The KKE has previously preferred to march separately.
There were more demonstrations there on Thursday and Saturday, with a turnout of hundreds at Pavlos’ funeral on Thursday of last week. Golden Dawn members have previously attacked immigrants. But a large group attacked trade unionists in the KKE the week before Pavlos’ killing.
There was even an inquiry launched into allegations that members of the armed forces helped train Golden Dawn paramilitaries. The government has made a U-turn on its rhetoric that the far right and the left are “two extremes” that feed off each other. It now calls for all parties that are committed to “democracy” and the “constitution” to unite against Golden Dawn.
It has suggested it could class Golden Dawn as a terrorist organisation—allowing it to be banned. These demands have become Syriza’s main focus. But government austerity has created the despair that Golden Dawn feeds on. It is the strike wave that offers hope.
“It’s right to criticise the government for not taking on the Nazis,” said Panos. “But it’s wrong to fall into the illusion that legalistic measures and a common front with the government can stop them. We can’t retreat from the strike movement in order to unite with the government.”
Loukas said, “The reaction has been exactly what Pavlos would have wanted. Even people who voted for Golden Dawn are starting to see them as Nazis. People are afraid too—they know that anyone could be attacked. But we are organising strikes and protests. Our actions can be very effective in beating the Nazis—and Pavlos would have wanted us to keep going.”
Action over austerity
Teachers and civil service workers struck across Greece on Monday of this week, followed by a general public sector strike on Tuesday. This came after a five-day strike by high school teachers and a two-day strike across the public sector last week. The government plans to sack tens of thousands of workers to satisfy its creditors.
Athens teacher Dina Garane told Socialist Worker, “My local union has three strike committees, and every morning we picket schools with parents. “Strikers have been making banners and posters, and putting them in every school. We have been building assemblies for students and teachers to organise together. “We’re in a confrontation with the government—and the power of our strikes could bring it down.”
Stand up for Petros
Keerfa, the Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat, is the main organisation behind anti-fascist and anti-racist protests in Greece.
Petros Constantinou, its coordinator and an Athens councillor, now faces prosecution for using an anti-fascist slogan on leaflets and for reporting on police repression of migrants.
Sign the petition to defend him at bit.ly/19adxHQ
Keerfa is hosting an international conference on fighting fascism in Athens on Saturday and Sunday of next week.
For more information and to register go to bit.ly/1esPTfS