Socialist Worker

Workers turn up the heat as Greek coalition clings on

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2411

Power workers and their supporters marched last week

Power workers and their supporters marched last week (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

Public sector workers were set to strike in Greece on Wednesday of this week. They plan rallies across the country and a protest at the ministry of finance in Athens.

The ADEDY union federation has also called on workers not to cooperate with government measures designed to cut jobs and pay. 

Power workers were also set to protest as part of their campaign against privatisation.

They caused power cuts with two 48-hour strikes last week—but union leaders called these off in the face of blackmail.

The government went to court to get a controversial “mobilisation” order to threaten the 19,000 workers with the sack if they didn’t go back to work. 

The measure was designed for use in national emergencies, but has instead been used several times to break strikes.

Opposition MPs condemned the move. Giorgos Katrougalos of the left wing Syriza opposition said, “Society has a right to resist, which our constitution recognises.”

Both the cuts and the selloff are among conditions the Greek government has to fulfil in return for bailout money from its international creditors.

These are the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, collectively known as the Troika.

Ordinary people in Greece are being forced to pay back the cost of bailing out the banks.

This has been particularly devastating to Greece’s health system. Its budget has been slashed by more than a quarter since the crisis.


Even Wolfgang Zoeller, who oversees the German government’s collaboration with the Greek health ministry, said the situation was “catastrophic and frightening”.

He admitted that the timetable imposed by the Troika to make sweeping cuts and free market reforms was “impossible to carry out”.

The coalition government is led by desperate Tory prime minister Antonis Samaras. He is struggling to both comply with the demands of the Troika and contain the resistance of Greek workers.

His majority in parliament is now razor thin—and next year he will face the challenge of having to elect a new president with a super-majority of MPs.

The legitimacy of the austerity programme hangs on the claim that it will revive the Greek economy. But six years later the recession continues—and the Troika is still imposing more cuts.

Since May’s European elections, Samaras and deputy prime minister Evangelos Venizelos of the Labour-type Pasok party have tried to create an appearance of stability.

But a new round of strikes blew that out of the water in June. 

These began with action led by media workers on the first anniversary of the struggle against the closure of state broadcaster ERT. This was followed by a national strike in hospitals.

The Greek Socialist Workers Party (SEK) argued last week, “The protests that are going on right now are not simply a continuation of previous contests.

“They carry a strong political message—the efforts of Samaras and Venizelos to cling onto power will not pass. 

“Workers’ resistance can spoil their plans, and give them the same fate as the governments that were brought down in 2011 and 2012.”

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Article information

Tue 8 Jul 2014, 17:30 BST
Issue No. 2411
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