A general strike in Greece brought the country to a standstill today, Thursday. The strike came in advance of a meeting of the Greek parliament this Saturday to vote on the conditions of the next bailout.
A protest of trade unionists in Athens brought thousands onto the streets.
“Three different sections from separate contingents marched,” said Panos Garganas, editor of Socialist Workers’ sister newspaper in Greece.
“There was a continuous stream of strikers marching, starting from different points and converging on parliament.”
Although transport was at a standstill in the morning, workers started it up later on so people could travel to strike rallies in the city.
Seafarers, on strike since Thursday of last week, voted to extend their strike for another 48 hours to finish this Sunday.
Greece’s EU and IMF creditors are demanding brutal cuts to pensions, attacks on collective bargaining and the removal of protections from mass sackings.
The strike follows a public sector general strike last month.
“The burden we carry is already unbearable,” said private sector union GSEE in a statement.
A meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on Monday announced that Greece’s debt repayments would be briefly suspended.
The Syriza government praised the move. But it will find few cheerleaders in the workers’ movement.
Syriza was elected in 2014 by offering to deliver change—but has continued with brutal austerity.
And workers aren’t pausing after today’s action. Panos told Socialist Worker how hospital workers are striking on 14 December to demand more money.
“And on 23 December, water workers are organising a rally,” he added. “They are threatened with privatisation.”
Workers recently held a protest to disrupt a shareholders meeting where the earnings of the company were to be distributed as dividends. The meeting had to be called off.
“Because the state is the main shareholder, the dividends would go to paying off the debt,” Panos explained. “The union was opposed, it said the money should go to the workers.”
Another shareholders meeting is set to take place on 23 December. Bosses will try to distribute the dividends again—and workers will protest again to stop the meeting.
While all this is going on, the left within the workers’ movement is organising and growing.
At the ADEDY public sector union’s conference organisations to the left of Syriza came out stronger than before.
Syriza’s sellouts have undermined its authority on the left and in the working class movement. But the action today shows how austerity can still be beaten.