Xekinima (CWI Greece) reporters
Greece’s second 24-hour general strike held this year, on 11 May, saw massive workers’ participation and completely paralysed every aspect of economic life in Greece. It showed again the enormous power of the organised working class and its potential to defeat the Pasok government’s austerity cuts.
But just days later, reaction took to the streets of Athens in the form of a murderous rampage by neo-Nazi thugs, while the police stood by. ‘Golden Dawn’ thugs attacked immigrants, killing a young man from Bangladesh and hospitalising many others.
Public participation, although slightly smaller than during the last general strike in February, was still very big. Many tens of thousands demonstrated in all the major cities. In the two central rallies in Athens (the communist party, KKE, organised a separate rally from the Greek trade union confederation, the GSEE), 40,000-50,000 took part.
The lower turnout was mainly due to the complete lack of organisation and preparation, not only on the part of the trade union leaderships, but also on the part of the leaderships of the main Left parties. It was also due to the lack of any plan and any prospect for the development of the mass struggles.
Many workers understand that a 24-hour strike, every two or three months, will not force the government to back down over its severe austerity programme. There have been nine general strikes in Greece since the beginning of 2010 and the government still continues to push through its policies.
In contrast, Xekinima (CWI Greece) says: refuse to pay the debt; for the nationalisation of the banks and commanding heights of the economy, under democratic workers’ control and management; for the development of the strike movement, including coordinated strikes and occupations, general strikes (24-, 48-hours and longer) to stop the cuts.
This action must be organised by the masses themselves, through action committees in workplaces, neighbourhoods, and in colleges.
Xekinima puts forward the perspective that through the mass struggles of the working class, the conditions will develop for a strong and militant socialist opposition. Big class struggles will radicalise workers and youth, developing the forces on the Left. Class battles can see mass action committees spring up in Greece, as has happened in the past.
These types of developments can provide the basis of a viable alternative to the Pasok or NDP governments of cuts – for a government genuinely representing the material interests of working people and the poor.
The Athens demonstration on 11 May saw violence on the part of the police, who viciously attacked workers’ contingents, hospitalising around 100 people.
The police violence increased the massive hatred in Greek society towards the government and anger against state repression.
Despite the fact that there is no real alternative on the part of the main Left parties, most of the slogans chanted in the course of the demonstrations called for the downfall of the government.
Following the violent police attacks on workers’ demonstrations and the fascists’ murderous assaults, it is essential that workers’ demonstrations are properly organised and stewarded, to protect them from provocations and attacks.
A united workers’ movement must oppose all forms of racism and racist attacks, resist the neo-Nazis and the far right, and oppose the bosses’ agenda of sowing ‘divide and rule’ policies amongst working people. This means putting forward clear socialist policies, including calling for jobs for all, a living wage, decent and affordable housing and full funding for health and welfare.