Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/526/3940
Greece: Government pension attacks provoke general strike
ON WEDNESDAY 19 March Greece experienced one of the greatest general strikes in its history. Up to 3 million workers took part in the strike and 200,000 workers took part in a big demonstration in Athens.
Andros Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI Greece), Athens
Today (Thursday 20 March), a legislative bill attacking pensions will be voted on in the Greek national parliament. There is another mass rally called for this afternoon, outside parliament, to protest against these attacks. Strikes called by various trade union federations, will continue for today and some will go on to tomorrow.
It was not just the general strike - the third since December 2007 - against the "social insurance bill", which was of massive, historical proportions. For the last three weeks, one sector of workers after another went out on strike to defend their pension rights.
The dockers were amongst the first. Violent clashes between dockers and the police 'special forces' took place in the big ports of Piraeus and Salonica, over the past few weeks. Dustbin workers came out all over Greece. The right wing New Democracy (ND) government tried to create a strike-breaking mechanism but had only limited success.
The electricity company workers have been on strike, for the last three weeks. There have been daily power cuts all over the country.
The government started a nauseating campaign of hypocrisy and slander against the electricity workers. But the government propaganda was not able to turn public opinion against the strikers. 85% of Greek people are opposed to the government plans and want the pension bill to be scrapped.
A judicial decision against the electricity company workers' federation encouraged other sections of the bosses to take legal action against striking workers. They faced a problem, however, in following this course of action: advocates and lawyers went on strike, for one whole week, from 17 March to 20 March. The courts ceased to function!
Buses, metro and trams have been out on a number of 24-hour strikes, and workers in the mass media (apart from journalists) have been out for the same time.
Developments on the political front are very important also. SYRIZA, a new left political formation, which received 5% in last September's general election, shot up to over 15% in the last opinion polls.
The fundamental reasons for this are the lack of any alterative policies from the main opposition party, (so-called 'socialist') PASOK, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the fact that SYRIZA is taking steps to the left.
The ruling class is worried that the two-party system, which previously secured its interests, is in real danger.
The Greek section of the CWI, Xekinima, closely collaborates with SYRIZA and was invited to speak at the national meeting of SYRIZA, last weekend. We raise the need for an effective struggle against the neo-liberal attacks and the need for a socialist programme.
Greece is faced with a crisis on all levels: economic, social and political. There is a determined mood amongst workers and youth. There is a widespread desire to continue the strikes, even after the pensions' bill becomes law. Once again, however, the main obstacle facing the determined mood of the working class is the trade union leadership, who are not willing to go as far.
Full report on www.socialistworld.net
In The Socialist 25 March 2008:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party Marxist analysis