Hospitality workers in Greece stopped work and protested on Tuesday demanding bosses protect their lives—and their jobs—from the coronavirus outbreak.
The workers in the food and tourism industries took action under lockdown conditions with the slogan, “We have paid a lot—we will not pay again.” Protesters in Athens marched to a rally outside the Greek parliament.
The action linked immediate demands for protection during the outbreak to the coming struggles over jobs and pay. They demanded protective equipment, but also pay rises and secure jobs.
Vassilis Myrsinias, a member of the food and hospitality union, spoke to Workers Solidarity, Socialist Worker’s sister newspaper in Greece.“Today's mobilisation is important because it is the first stoppage the union has taken at this time,” he said.
“It is an action that responds to the problems working class people face, and to the aggressive attitude of employers.”
He added, “The tourist season is up in the air—not only because tourists aren’t coming from abroad but because there is no job protection plan.
“Our response is that there is a need to escalate mobilisations to secure jobs, comply with collective agreements, new social tourism programs and pay rises, so that we can repel the effects of their economic crisis.
“That means a conflict with the government.”
Greek anti-racists joined the protest in Athens to demand that closed hotels be used to house refugees and homeless people.
The action was the latest protest by workers in Greece under the lockdown. Teachers protested on Friday of last week against attacks on education. And at the beginning of this month health workers demonstrated outside hospitals across the country.
Teachers were set to protest again tomorrow, Thursday. And May Day rallies are also still planned in at least eight Greek cities.
Greece’s right wing New Democracy government has used the lockdown to push through attacks on workers without mass resistance. These include an education bill that will increase class sizes and make it harder for students to get into university.
The government is also certain to try and make workers—who’ve suffered over a decade of some of the worst austerity in Europe—pay for the new crisis.
Yet the protests are a vital move to try and prepare the resistance against the coming onslaught.