Tens of thousands of workers flooded the streets of central Athens in Greece yesterday, Wednesday, as the country was brought to a standstill by a general strike.
Workers across the private and public sectors came out against the latest round of cuts demanded by Greece’s creditors. MPs are set to vote on the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest “memorandum” austerity package today, Thursday.
Workers’ Solidarity journalist Giorgios Pittas told Socialist Worker, “The general strike was successful, but the strikes and protests have to go on after the vote in parliament tonight.
“They can vote the memorandum through but we have the power to stop them on the streets and in the workplaces. Workers across the public and private sectors are saying we need to fight.”
Ship workers started a four day strike on Tuesday. Doctors stayed out for an extra 24 hours after the general strike and council workers are beginning a new 48 hour strike next Monday and Tuesday.
Air traffic controllers struck for four hours on Wednesday, grounding scheduled flights across Greece. The Poesy journalists’ union organised a 24 hour strike.
Giorgios told Socialist Worker that bus workers in Thessaloniki are on all-out strike. And women shop workers came out for the first time on Wednesday against Sunday working hours.
Migrant agricultural workers led one of the marches on Wednesday to join thousands of people in Athens city centre. Protesters converged on Klauthmonos square for a rally called by various trade unions.
As politicians debated the conditions for the latest bailout package, some 15,000 workers marched on the parliament building.
People’s lives have been ripped apart by the brutal austerity. It has been implemented by the ruling Syriza party, since it came into office in 2015, at the behest of the EU.
The unemployment rate in Greece stands at 23 percent, rising to 48 percent for people under the age of 24.
The conditions for the latest bailouts include a further cut to pensions and lowering threshold at which people pay income tax.
Some people have seen their pensions slashed by as much as 50 percent.
In a statement the Adedy civil service workers’ union said, “No to the new looting of salaries and pensions.”
The strikes and rallies sent a clear message to the government against the implementation of the bailout.
People on the protest slammed the Syriza-led government for its sellouts. "They told us they would end austerity and tear apart the bailouts," said pensioner Paraskevi Tsouparopoulou. "Instead they brought us disaster."
“People can see how Syriza’s solution doesn’t work,” said Giorgios “The bailout proves to everyone that the social democractic solution doesn’t work."