Three general strikes in Greece

Submitted by martin on 17 March, 2010 - 8:35 Author: Colin Foster

Greece's trade unions have organised three general strikes in the last month against the drastic cuts programme developed by the PASOK (social-democratic) government to conciliate the international financiers: 24 February, 5 March, 11 March.

Two union federations loosely linked to PASOK - ADEDY (public sector) and GSEE (private sector) - and the PAME union federation, led by the diehard-Stalinist Greek Communist Party, called the strikes. Further strikes are talked of. The financial crisis has eased slightly, with EU discussions about loans to help out the Greek government, but the cuts are still going ahead.

The broad slogans of the strikes have been simply to stop the cuts, with no indication of exact alternatives. There is a hint (though not a statement) in the declarations of GSEE and ADEDY of suggesting "more balanced" cuts. GSEE announced a "day of reflection" on 15 March, musing that "consumption patterns must be changed immediately and dramatically", saying that greater care in shopping for bargains and decisions to "buy Greek" could help "resist the attempts to socially drive down the working class".

ADEDY's declaration of 11 March called for a "fair tax system", and concluded: "Continue and escalate our fight in unity. All together in the fight! The measures will not pass". It also wrote of "public services reorganised on a modern and healthy basis".

PAME has struck a more militant note: "No sacrifice for the plutocracy!" But this has as much of the factionally self-promoting about it as of the strategic. The Greek Communist Party rejoiced after 11 March: "The demonstration called by PAME was much bigger than that organised by the leaderships of yellow trade unions confederations of GSEE and ADEDY. Once again the strikers turned their back on the yellow trade unionists".

The Greek Trotskyist group, OKDE, seeking to show a way forward, has called for "building associations and committees, and general meetings in the workplaces, neighbourhoods, and schools".

Politically, OKDE recommends "combining our struggle to overthrow the reactionary government of PASOK". But to replace it with whom? OKDE doesn't say. PASOK is the main "centre-left" (as they now call themselves) party of Greece. In the October 2009 general election, it won 44% of the vote. Its main rival - and immediately feasible replacement in government - is the conservative New Democracy, on 34%.

The Stalinist Greek Communist Party got 8%, an alliance around a group originating from the former Eurocommunist wing of the Communist Party got 4.6%, and a more radical "anti-capitalist left" coalition (in which OKDE did not participate) got 0.36%.

It seems that a struggle for the reorganisation and transformation of the Greek workers' movement, working on the tensions which must be opened up in the PASOK-aligned unions and within PASOK, is necessary in order to map a political way forward.

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