Socialist Worker

ESF in Greece will see beginning of a hot summer of struggle

by Nikos Loudos
Issue No. 1999

Thousands took to the streets of Athens against US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice

Thousands took to the streets of Athens against US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice

Activists from all over Europe and the Middle East will arrive in Athens this week to participate in the 4th European Social Forum (ESF).

A successful ESF will kick-off a warm May of struggle against the Greek Tory government and the bosses. The government is very worried.

The response to the visit by US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice to Athens last week shocked the government.

Rice arrived on Tuesday morning and departed early afternoon. Big anti-war protests marked the day, even though the visit was during working hours.

Rice held talks with the conservative Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis in an attempt to get support for war against Iran. But neither the president nor the Blairite leader of the opposition dared meet her.

In a poll conducted by a TV station, 73 percent of people called for the government to vote against the US ultimatum against Iran on the United Nations Security Council.

The anti-war movement returns to the streets of Athens this Saturday in a demonstration backed by the ESF against any attack on Iran.

Civil servants, hospital workers and council workers are set to strike on Wednesday of next week to demand a pay rise. Teachers and lecturers are extending the strike by 24 hours, fighting the government’s plans to privatise education.

University students are discussing occupying their universities in solidarity with their teachers. Bin workers have just ended a ten day strike. Their strength forced the government to promise to class their job as “unhealthy”, meaning better pensions and earlier retirement.

Workers in the half-privatised electricity company are preparing to take strike action this month, against neo-liberal plans. The same is true of workers in the arms industry and the railways.

GSEE, the Greek TUC, has been pushed by these struggles to call a one-day general strike within the next three weeks – although with no date fixed yet.

The GSEE is now calling on its members to “support and take an active part in the ESF, which is co-organised by the Greek trade unions. The ESF process and the big demonstration aim to fight against the anti-social politics of neo-liberalism, in all forms these take around the EU and the world.”

Workers from a fertiliser factory in Salonica, who have occupied their workplace for 100 days against its closure, are sending a big delegation.

Greek workers and activists are expecting a lot from the 4th ESF. We hope to share experiences on how to continue fighting war and neo-liberalism.

Activists from the Genoa 2001 initiative and the Greek Stop the War Coalition have been campaigning across Greece to get people to the ESF.

They are backing a lot of seminars and workshops at the ESF with many well-known speakers and activists from Egypt, Turkey and Greece.

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Sat 6 May 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1999
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