Socialist Worker

General strike in Greece can beat the European Union's austerity programme

Public sector unions in Greece are gearing up for a new general strike against Syriza’s austerity drive, writes Panos Garganas in Athens

Issue No. 2526

Protesters in Greeces Syntagma Square during a demonstration in 2010

Protesters in Greece's Syntagma Square during a demonstration in 2010 (Pic: George Laoutaris/Flickr)


Syriza won last year’s ­election by offering social change but has instead delivered brutal austerity.

Workers have decided to hit back with a general strike next month, and are linking their struggles to those of the burgeoning anti-racist movement.

Adedy, the Confederation of Civil Service Unions, has said ­thousands of workers will strike on 24 November.

The resolution adopted by its executive committee states that strikes and demonstrations by sectors such as hospital workers, teachers and pensioners must escalate. It appeals to private sector unions to join the strike and fight for collective ­agreements, full-time jobs and against benefit cuts.

Health workers struck earlier this month and organised a mass demonstration that marched across Athens to the ministry of health. Contingents from each hospital on the route joined the protest. Similar demonstrations are now planned across the country.

Pensioners protesting against a new round of cuts have been tear gassed. They have already lost 45 percent of their pensions over the past six years. Water workers have struck against plans to privatise public companies.

The Troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund demands every firm, landed property or ­share holding owned by the state be transferred to a “super fund” controlled by Greece’s ­creditors. And the Syriza-led government has conceded.

Teachers are demanding more staff and extra funding for schools. Education has suffered some of the worst cuts.

Police

There are now fewer primary school teachers in Greece than police. The demand for more teachers is linked to the fight for the right of ­refugee children to go to school.

It is estimated that over 20,000 ­refugee children are stranded in Greece. EU governments are not allowing their families to travel to the countries they would like to go.

Most are kept in camps isolated from the cities. The Syriza-led ­government has made arrangements for just 1,200 refugee children to join afternoon classes.

Anti-racist organisations, such as Keerfa, and teachers’ unions say this is too little and demand full access to proper classes for all children.

They have already moved together with parents’ associations to isolate groups of fascists that have tried to block refugee children from going to school.

Anti-racist and anti-fascist activists are uniting with the strike movement to oppose austerity and racist policies.

Prime minister Alexis Tsipras spoke at a recent Syriza congress. He claimed that the party represents a modern left that has the ­courage to implement tough measures to keep Greece in the EU and bring about a recovery.

He attacked those on the left that oppose his government. According to him we are isolationist and defeatist.

Yet, even among traditional Syriza members only one third renewed their membership between the first and second congress. That’s according to Avgi, the Syriza daily newspaper.

Rebuilding a left that supports workers fighting back against the policies of Alexis Tsipras is the most urgent task.

Panos Garganas is editor of Workers Solidarity, Socialist Worker's sister paper in Greece

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.