Public transport was brought to a halt on 6 May as Greek workers began a 48-hour general strike against austerity.
The Greek TUCs in the private and public sectors called the strike in protest against the Syriza-led government voting for another tranche of austerity measures as part of the ‘Troika’-imposed (European Central Bank, EU and International Monetary Fund) bailout package.
These measures will further impoverish workers and pensioners already suffering years of devastating cuts in living standards. Social security contributions will rise, as will income tax. Top-up pensions for low-income earners will be phased out.
But while the economic screws have been tightened on Greece, differences have emerged between the IMF and the EU leaders over the political risks of imposing such severe austerity, given Greece’s inability to repay the ‘debt’.
Labour minister George Katrougalos complained that successive bailouts since 2010 have shrunk the country’s national wealth by 25%.
But some of this decline has taken place under ‘left wing’ Syriza’s watch – despite being elected in January 2015 on an anti-austerity agenda and despite voters explicitly rejecting Troika bailout demands in a July 2015 referendum.
Workers have staged numerous general strikes against cuts and to defend living standards. But this tenacity has not been matched by the leaders of labour organisations who have called token general strikes instead of organising a serious struggle against capitalism and for a socialist political alternative.
Xekinima (CWI Greece) has consistently campaigned within the trade unions and wider working class for such an alternative strategy.
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The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) is the socialist international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated.
The CWI is organised in 45 countries and works to unite the working class and oppressed peoples against global capitalism and to fight for a socialist world.