Greek workers stage biggest general strike

Submitted by Matthew on 26 October, 2011 - 2:10

The two-day general strike on 19-20 October was the biggest of all the general strikes of the last two years of struggle in Greece.

Over 500,000 public and private sector workers, pensioners, students, self-employed, community activists marched on Athens and over a million all over Greece. The slogans shouted by the strikers and demonstrators demanded the overthrow of the government and the withdrawal of the austerity measures and the policies of the Troika (European Union, European Central Bank, and IMF).

Many different sectors of the working class participated, from the relatively “privileged” workers of the ministry of foreign affairs to the minimum-wage private sector workers. At the front of the Athens demonstration on 19 October were the refuse workers who have led a militant strike for the last three weeks.

Their banners read: “We are refusing to obey army orders. We are going to carry on striking until we win”.

School students and university students joined the demonstrations. Ambulances, lorries, tractors and taxis joined refuse workers' vans at the front of most demonstrations.

Public-sector, utility, and ministry buildings were occupied, with many demonstrators going on from the march into the occupied buildings to express their solidarity.

50,000 workers demonstrated in Thessaloniki, 20,000 in Hrakleio. 5,000 people demonstrated on the small island of Chios, 4,000 in Rethymno, 3,000 in Kozani, 2,000 in Agrinio etc.

For two days Greece was in a standstill. Every mode of transport — buses, trams, underground, trains, cargo ships, ferries, tourists boats, taxis, tractors, lorries, airplanes — was brought to a halt. The only buses and trains moving were the ones that transporting strikers and demonstrators.

Most small shopkeepers closed their shops. Some bakers decided to open their shops and distribute their bread and buns free.

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