Greek teachers show the way forward

Build for all-out general strike action to defeat new austerity attacks!

Public sector workers have, yet again, demonstrated their determination to resist the Greek government’s austerity attacks, as demanded under the bailout conditions of the Troika (International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank). The bailout terms mean that 25,000 public sector workers will be put into a “mobility pool” – effectively laid off – by the end of this year, on massively reduced pay. If, after eight months, they cannot find alternative jobs (which is most likely given the depth of the recession in Greece) they will be sacked. In addition, 15,000 public sector workers’ jobs will be axed next year.

In response, a five day teachers’ strike commenced on Monday 16 September and civil servants held a two-day strike beginning on 18 September. These strikes represent a revival in the workers’ movement after a pause in the class struggle, in part due to the devastating impact of capitalist austerity on people’s living standards.

Xekinima members report on the start of the teachers’ action.

Participation in the first day of a five-day teachers’ strike was massive, with an average 90% participation nationally.

The teachers’ marches were massive too, with 30,000 demonstrators on the march in Athens and 10,000 in Thessaloniki.

Although mainly made up of secondary and high school teachers, contingents of workers from the public sector (social security, pension funds, public insurance funds, social welfare and university administration) were very big, as well.

Four union federations coordinated their action with OLME (the secondary school teachers’ union) and announced they would take repeated strike action.

Student union contingents were equally big on the demonstrations, as were those of primary and private school teachers. Together with teachers in Athens, hundreds of school students joined the march and created a very vibrant mood with their chants.

Unions representing social housing workers and the Department of Development were also present with banners.

However, there is a long way ahead and the only thing we know for certain is that the government, together with the help of the main TV channel owners and newspapers, and the forces of repression, will intensify their attacks against these workers.

The same strength and resilience must be shown by workers from other union federations that have entered the fight.

The most essential thing is that the movement of trade union federations which is proceeding to five-day repeated strikes becomes as wide as possible, as soon as possible, with the involvement of more sections of the working class.

An indefinite general strike is the strongest weapon that the workers’ movement has against its capitalist tyrants.

If this weapon is used ‘lightly’, without a plan and adequate preparation in the workplaces, it can backfire. If it is used correctly, ie if it has massive participation, determination and expands into many sectors, it can not only overthrow the government’s policies but also the government itself.

(Translations by Amalia Loizidou and Eleni Vetsika)