A workers’ occupation of the Greek ERT state broadcasting corporation was the only media outlet broadcasting in the country today, Wednesday. Journalists across the rest of the Greek media struck in solidarity with occupation.
Workers have been staying in and working day and night to keep ERT on the air since the government announced its closure—with the loss of 2,700 jobs—on Tuesday.
Up to 10,000 people rallied outside its headquarters in Athens that night. Workers across Greece are set to walk out in a public sector general strike tomorrow.
ERT journalist Maria Kodaxi told Socialist Worker, “When we heard the news that we were going to close it was the worst moment of my life. But the last few days working in occupation have been the best.
“We’ve been on air talking about what we really think and feel. We’ve got lots of journalists, technicians, camera crew who stayed in.
“We’ve got all the unions and the people here as friends to support us. We’re working with energy and passion to show that public television belongs to the people—not the government.”
A move that was supposed to put the government’s austerity programme back on track is spectacularly backfiring.
Encouraged by the “Troika”—the European Union (EU), European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund—the Greek government is supposed to to sell off key state assets and slash 15,000 public sector jobs by the end of next year. But it has run into fierce opposition from workers. And a high profile bid to sell off the state gas company flopped earlier this week.
The ERT workers have a history of militancy, they have struck against each of Greece’s recent governments. They held a union meeting as soon as they heard the news and voted to resist. “We knew that the closure was unfair,” said Maria. “It’s an attack on democracy and free speech as well as on us. The minister said the workers are the problem. But this government is working only for the Troika, not the people.
“So we decided to stay in, and we won’t stop working until they take us out by force.”
The government has blocked ERT’s frequencies, but the workers have continued to transmit on the internet.
The ERT workers’ fight has struck a chord with media workers around the world. They have been bombarded with messages of support from media organisations, including BBC workers and others.
The attempt to close ERT has deepened the splits inside a fragile coalition government, with leading figures in the coalition’s junior parties condemning the move. And it has unleashed a new wave of workers’ anger.
“Everyone here is in this to win,” said Maria. “The government thought it could do whatever it wanted to us. We have shown that workers have the power—and we will fight this to the end.”
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