By Panos Garganas in Athens
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Huge anger fuels strikes in Greece

This article is over 10 years, 2 months old
Issue 2398
Government building cleaners join media workers on strike on Tuesday of this week
Government building cleaners join media workers on strike on Tuesday of this week (Pic: SEK)

Workers across Greece were set to strike on Wednesday of this week in the first combined public and private sector general strike since November last year.

All the journalists and print workers’ unions also struck the day before to make sure there would be no newspapers on the strike day.

Workers are against mass sackings in the public sector and major privatisation plans.

For example the site of the old Athens airport, on prime coastal land, was supposed to be turned into a park. 

Instead it’s being sold off for development to one of Greece’s richest families, shipping magnates who used to own Eurobank. 

That will mean luxury houses and shopping malls.

But the main demand is against a new round of requirements for the last instalment of Greece’s bailout. 

As well as new redundancies in the health service, these include a long list of rule changes to help the bosses. 

Unlicensed supermarkets can now sell medicine and undercut trusted chemists, for example, and older milk can be sold as “fresh”.

These are also the opening salvo of talks for a new bailout. 

Greece’s public debt is not sustainable. It will need another £12-17 billion in bailouts over the next few years. All this comes as a huge scandal is dominating Greek politics.

Panagiotis Baltakos, the cabinet secretary who is close to the prime minister, resigned after a leaked tape last week showed him talking to the acting leader of the Nazi Golden Dawn.

The actual Golden Dawn leader is in custody for an investigation that could see Nazis jailed over links to attacks and murders. 

Baltakos echoed Golden Dawn’s criticism of the investigation, pre-empting the judges and boosting the Nazis. There’s an air of political crisis because of this, and it’s affecting the government’s plans to present its economic policy as a success.

It had hoped it could start borrowing on the financial markets again instead of having to keep asking for bailouts. 

But credit rating agency Moody’s postponed a statement on the Greek economy due to “political instability”.

There’s also huge anger.

Polls published on Sunday showed a huge turn away from the government. 

Even before the scandal there was a big trade union protest on Tuesday of last week, as riot police tried to shut down central Athens for a meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

So the political crisis and the economic crisis are reinforcing each other and the government is in a mess. 

This creates a good opportunity for the left to take the lead and go into the euro elections calling for the government to resign.

But the biggest left party, Syriza, is being very moderate. Its paper recently suggested it could provide an end to “instability”—a clear call to the European establishment, rather than to angry workers.

We say the Nazis should go to jail and the government that has colluded with them should resign. 

That would not just be a blow to the Nazis, but a boost to everyone fighting against austerity.

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