A general strike paralysed Greece today, Wednesday. The action was against new attacks on workers’ wages and their union rights.
Workers in Athens told Socialist Worker that the strike saw the biggest march there for a long time.
“It took more than an hour for the back of the march to catch up with the front,” said civil service worker Tiana Andreou.
“The government is being much more aggressive with these attacks and that’s why people feel so angry.”
Print worker Dimitrios Argyrokastritis said his workplace and lots of others were shut down completely.
“Lots of rank and file workers organised themselves to come on the demonstration when the union leaders did nothing,” he said.
The government is trying to push through new austerity measures it agreed with its creditors last November.
These creditors are the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank – known as the ‘Troika’.
The austerity measures include huge wage cuts in public utilities and job losses across the public sector.
The government also wants to abolish national bargaining in the private sector. This would give firms the right to slash wages and sack workers without negotiating with unions.
Many protests took place today as part of the strike.
In Hania, Crete, the teachers’ union led a march of thousands.“The government is very worried,’ said teacher Margarita Papamina.
‘For three years politicians have passed measures in parliament but not been able to implement them because of workers’ resistance.
“They couldn’t close the schools and hospitals that they wanted to. They weren’t able to privatise the state electricity company.
“They know the resistance that is growing everyday so they are trying to terrorise that movement.”
In Margarita’s union seven teacher activists could lose their jobs after the police accused them of violence for taking part in demonstrations and occupations.
Teachers led the demonstration with a banner in their defence.“It is not about violence, said Margarita. ‘It is an attempt to attack the unions and the parties of the left.
“But workers are not afraid—we want to answer these accusations with more strikes.”
The government says it has no room for concessions on its austerity programme and is considering further restrictions on workers’ rights.
It has already clamped down on the right to strike, threatening striking workers on ships and the Athens metro with prison.
But workers’ resistance has forced the government to delay some attacks.
Local government worker Costas Fininis said, “Every time the government makes a new austerity deal they tell us things will get better.
‘They say we shouldn’t strike because better days are coming. But we know that’s not true. They are driving us to chaos, so we raise our voices and we strike.
“We are putting pressure on our unions to call longer strikes. We want workers to take control of public services ourselves, instead of this parasitic government.”
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