Socialist Worker

Strikers mock claim that Greek financial crisis is at an end

by Panos Garganas in Athens
Issue No. 2399

Sacked ERT media workers at the front of Fridays demo

Sacked ERT media workers at the front of Friday's demo (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


Workers across Greece walked out in a general strike on Wednesday of last week which was followed by a very big march to the parliament in Athens.

It was even more impressive because the decision to call the strike had been taken at the Greek TUC in opposition to its president.

The left had pushed for the strike, and the social democratic party, Pasok, that still dominates much of the trade union bureaucracy, opposed calling it.

 Even after it was called, the Pasok-led unions did little to mobilise for it.

Yet there was a good turnout from all sectors at a strike rally.

Hospital workers led the union demonstration. Both doctors and ambulance drivers face redundancies.

If this happens it will be a crippling blow to hospitals.

The workers were very militant, chanting, “Don’t sack the doctors, don’t sack the drivers—sack the ministers!”

Media workers from state broadcaster ERT were the first to call a protest on Friday when German chancellor Angela Merkel came to Greece.

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The government closed ERT ten months ago. But even now the regional office in Salonica and many local radio stations are still occupied and broadcasting. 

The government is rushing to bring Greece back into line with the financial markets and is going ahead with a sale of five-year bonds to raise £2 billion. 

This has been planned as a way to represent Greece’s return to normal after the crisis.

It actually represents a shift in hedge funds’ strategy since the US Federal Reserve began to reduce its "quantitative easing" (the printing of extra money). 

They are moving from emerging economies, such as Brazil and South Africa, back to Portugal and Ireland—and, the government hopes, Greece.

But the bonds represent a drop in the ocean of Greece’s £250 billion debt. And it will cost twice the interest rate they got from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. That will effectively double the £5 billion debt interest Greece has to pay every year.

There is no prospect of economic growth to offset this debt.

Even the few who believe the recession could end see only stagnation in its place. So debts can only be paid by making new cuts.

The plan was to make this bond sale on the eve of the European and local elections. 

But the government has brought it forward to prove its resolve in the face of the strikes—and a political scandal involving ministers and the Golden Dawn fascist party.

A leaked tape exposed links between a top minister and a Golden Dawn leader at a time when the party is being investigated for criminal activities.

The trial of the murder of Pakistani worker Shehzad Luqman was set to report on Tuesday of this week. 

If it finds the crime was racially motivated, it too could become part of the Golden Dawn investigation. 

And a few weeks before the elections, another general strike is set to take place on May Day.


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