Socialist Worker

Syriza faces nationwide strike against pension cut in Greece

Workers in Greece were set to take part in a general strike to defend their pensions, reports Dave Sewell

Issue No. 2489

Workers marching during a general strike in Greece in 2014

Workers marching during a general strike in Greece in 2014 (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


Workers across Greece were set to walk out in the third general strike against new pension cuts on Thursday of this week.

A wave of strikes, over the pension attack and various sectional demands, have added to the pressure on union leaders to call action.

Last week saw a 48-hour strike on the ferries as well as walkouts by journalists and Athens metro and national rail workers.

Farmers escalated their daily blockades of major roads last Thursday. Their 5,000-strong rally forced agriculture minister Vangelis Apostolou to pull out of opening a major agricultural fair in the second city Thessalonica.

On the same day local government workers occupied town halls as workers at the largest pension fund struck. Notaries joined an ongoing indefinite strike by lawyers.

One of the leading unions in the fightback has been that of health workers in Athens.

Trainee surgeon Zanneta Lysikatou told Socialist Worker, “Workers are very angry at the government. They understand the pension law is no good and they are ready to fight.

“This means we have to do it right on the day of the strike—and bring everything to a stop.”

Union leaders wanted to delay the general strike until prime minister Alexis Tsipras announced the date of the vote in parliament.

But actions called at a local level have helped push them.

Guerrilla

Radiologist Christos Arghyris calls this “Guerrilla trade unionism—like Che Guevara in the hospitals.

“We do something in one hospital, and we spread it and tell other workers look, you can do this too,” he said.

Zanneta added, “People are very disappointed with the union bureaucracy. They want to take things into their own hands.”

The failure of the left government was meant to show there was no alternative. Some said workers would give up on the left and return to Tory party New Democracy.

Instead Syriza won September’s election and now it’s New Democracy that’s struggling.

Only 400,000 people voted in its recent leadership election—about half as many as last time.

New leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis wants to oppose the government, but won only narrowly over those who want to support cuts.

But that doesn’t mean workers accept Syriza’s cuts. Even in its own ranks, despire thousands leaving, many members back the strikes against its measures.

Thessalonica student and Syriza Youth activist Dimitris Arkoudis, told Socialist Worker, “We support the general strike.

“The pension law does have some good things—it takes from those who can afford it. But there are things we have to fight.

“Workers and farmers will have to struggle for something better.”


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