By Dave Sewell
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2532

Workers across public sector in Greece walk out against Syriza government’s austerity

This article is over 5 years, 1 months old
Issue 2532
Marchers in Athens during a public sector strike last week
Marchers in Athens during a public sector strike last week (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

Public sector workers struck across Greece against austerity measures on Thursday of last week.

Hospitals only responded to emergency cases. Ferries to and from the islands were halted and thousands marched in the capital Athens.

Greece’s left Syriza government is pushing a new round of cuts to wages, pensions and jobs as part of its bailout agreement with the European Union (EU).

Public sector union federation Adedy announced that five years of cuts had reduced the number of people employed by the state from 936,000 to 567,000.

It’s part of a broader set of planned “reforms” being demanded by Greece’s creditors, including an attack on workers’ rights. They want to make sackings easier for bosses and hit union funding.

Stavros Kioutsoumbelis of the Adedy executive said, “We have to push back because they are leading us back to middle ages in terms of labour rights.”

Unions have called a nationwide general strike on Thursday of next week.

The government warned that the proposals “would be a social disaster”.

It is haggling with EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) bosses this week to water them down.

But it has poor form in saying no to those who can cut off the government’s income by withholding bailout money.

It’s been eight years since the global financial crisis and years of EU and IMF-imposed austerity.

But workers in Greece are still fighting attempts to make them pay the bankers’ bill.

Israel fans flames of hatred

Israeli politicians have led a backlash against Palestinians after huge fires spread across the Israeli state and the West Bank last week.

Minister Naftali Bennett said, “Only someone who this land does not belong to would be capable of setting fire to it”.

Some 35 people—including 25 Palestinians—had been reported arrested after fires destroyed 32,000 acres of forest.

Israeli government figures said the fires were “political arson” against the Israeli state.

It’s possible that some fires were started by Palestinians as an act of resistance.

They came as Israel announced plans to build 500 new settlement homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

Yet other Israeli authorities said the fires most likely began as the result of an unusually dry winter and strong winds.

Liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz suggested blaming Palestinians was an attempt to divert attention from the government’s “negligence” of the fire service.

Nick Clark

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