Greece on fire with revolt
By Matthew Cookson
Greek workers are pushing their austerity-obsessed government to the brink of collapse.
This week they launched a 48-hour general strike on Tuesday.
The strikes and mass protests have thrown the Greek government into turmoil, and got Europe’s rulers worried about their ability to impose their will on the continent’s people.
Trade unionists in the private and public sectors have held powerful general strikes against the painful measures imposed as part of a bailout last year.
But this week’s action was the first to go beyond 24-hours—satisfying a key demand of union activists.
This, along with an ongoing strike by power workers and the continuing occupations of public squares by protesters, has panicked the government.
As Socialist Worker went to press, Pasok, the Labour-style party that runs the country, was unsure if it could win enough votes in parliament to push through an additional austerity package.
Opposition means some Pasok MPs could vote against the cuts or abstain.
The European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) insist that MPs vote to accept more austerity and privatisation before they will release a 12 billion euro loan to Greece.
The new measures include introducing income tax for workers earning less than 8,000 euros a year.
Greek workers are not willing to accept the attacks. Opinion polls show that between 70 and 80 percent of the population are opposed to the plan.
“The strike has been solid and the government is hanging on by its finger nails,” Panos Garganas, the editor of the Workers Solidarity newspaper in Greece, told Socialist Worker from outside the parliament on Tuesday.
“Transport workers joined the general strike, making the action more solid.
“Their strike means that people tempted to go into work find it much more difficult.
“Thousands marched from a strike rally to protest outside parliament in Syntagma Square.
“We reinforced the people who are occupying the square against austerity, who have been there for weeks now after being inspired by the Spanish movement.
“People intend to camp out in Syntagma throughout the strike. We are determined that we won’t let the police force us out, no matter what level of force they use.”
The police attacked protesters outside the square early on Tuesday afternoon.
Continuous all-out strikes by power workers against privatisation continue to have a big effect. Other groups have been taking direct action or plan to step up the fight against the attacks they face.
Panos said, “There is now a movement in the unions to extend the strikes beyond Wednesday.
“The power workers are determined to continue until the government backs down. That message is spreading.
“Hellenic post bank workers, who face privatisation, are set to hold a general assembly on Thursday to prolong the strike, as do water workers in Salonica, Greece’s second city.
“The pressure from below—the strikes and the occupations of the squares—forced the Greek TUC to extend its general strike to 48 hours this week.
“The Anti-Capitalist Left, which the Greek Socialist Workers Party is part of, has been the key group pushing for this extension.
“The huge general strike on 15 June showed the amount of support the government has lost.”
The continuing fightback could bring down the government, cause even more intense problems for our rulers and inspire those fighting back across the continent.
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