Greek ultra-cuts spark new strikes

Submitted by Matthew on 8 February, 2012 - 12:46

A 24-hour general strike of Greek workers has been called for Tuesday 7 February by the GSEE (private sector) and ADEDY (public sector) unions in response to the three-party coalition government’s agreement to make yet further cuts as demanded by the EU/ ECB/ IMF Troika as conditions for the second bailout fund and “private sector involvement” (PSI) in reorganising Greece’s debt.

Under the pressure from the base, GSEE and ADEDY have been forced away from the negotiating tables and into reminding themselves of some of their trade-union vocabulary.

“What is happening right now is not negotiations. The Troika is demanding the death of Greece. The Troika is cynically blackmailing a whole nation.

“They are threatening us with bankruptcy one way or another. Either Greece will be bankrupt or our wages will be bankrupted.

“The Troika wants to dismantle all pro-worker legislation, and to reduce private-sector wages up to 30%”, said GSEE leader Panagopulos.

ADEDY leader Hliopoulos added: “We have a duty to stop these attacks on the Greek people and Greek society. Political agreements have been reached by politicians who previously warned us that these measures will lead us to disaster and the Greek economy to a further crisis and negative growth. The Troika and government will have the whole of the Greek society against them”.

With the slogan “All united to overthrow barbarism”, the large though diehard-Stalinist Greek Communist Party, KKE, and its trade-union front PAME, are calling “every worker in every workplace to organise collectively through strike action to resist any attempt to further reduce wages and pensions in a direct or indirect way”.

The tone of the strike will be set by the workers and workplaces that have been in continuous strikes and occupations in recent months.

The workers of Greek Steel (on strike since 31 October), of Loukisa (two months of occupation), of 3E, of Alter and Eleytherotypia (media workers on occupation since autumn), and of Intracom, are leading by example.

In the public sector, all transport workers (trams, trains, buses, tubes), teachers, seafarers and dockers, bank workers, lawyers, and court workers will join the strike. From 7 February the train workers of OSE (the Hellenic Railways Organisation) are starting a continuous occupation, demanding that the government re-hire the workers put in “reserve” (effectively sacked), pay wage arrears, and stop the privatisation of the railway service. They ask all Greek workers to support them in their fight for a public railway system under workers’ control and with cheap affordable railway tickets for all.

Workers at the ministry of agriculture are occupying their ministry office on Tuesday to protest against redundancies and the closing down of public sector organisations and departments.

A 24 hour strike falls short of what is needed. Twelve 24 hour general strikes and two 48 hour strikes have been already called in the last two years.

We need a comprehensive plan of rolling three and five day strikes in every workplace that would paralyse the economy and the state and that would overthrow the government.

The revolutionary left should put forward the demand for a continuous general strike and call on people to occupy Syntagma square and barricade the parliament until the Troika representatives go and the government is overthrown.

The revolutionary left should take this initiative alongside the neighbourhood non-payment movements which have organised mass refusal to pay the new regressive property tax.

We need a united workers’ front in both the private and public sector alongside the unemployed, the refugees, and the civil disobedience neighbourhood movements.

We should put forward the demand for another society, which has our needs as its priority, a socialist, radically-democratic society. The content and the form of struggles should match the level and aggressiveness of their attacks.

Despite its revolutionary lingo and the militancy of its members, KKE cannot be trusted to lead the struggle. Its “the party knows it all” attitude can only lead the most militant of workers to disappointment and defeat.

Its refusal to back the rank and file left wing media workers’ proposal for indefinite strike action led to the defeat of the ballot for strike action by media workers. In general if KKE does not control a strike or occupation, then it does not support it or even openly acts as a strike breaker.

KKE characterised last summer’s movement of “the indignant” in the city squares as a movement of the ruling class. During the September occupations in universities, KKE voted in general meetings against the continuation of the struggle. In the transport union, KKE voted against the escalation of the struggle and against indefinite strike action, characterising them as ultra-left.

On the other hand in Greek Steel, where PAME dominates, KKE supports the indefinite strike action and demands the rest of the working class solidarise with the Greek Steel workers.

Meanwhile KKE’s printing company, “TypoEkdotiki”, has declared itself bankrupt, which will lead to redundancies, and has used legal loopholes to avoid its legal obligations to their employees as regards payment of their wages etc. So KKE’s empty revolutionary lingo leads to the ownership of a capitalist company that places profit at its first priority!

A general strike called and organized from below cannot rely on the union bureaucracy, which tries to paralyse the trade union struggles and lead the workers to defeat through the negotiating table. Only a couple of weeks ago GSEE was participating in “talks” with the employers’ federation, discussing ways of reducing labour costs.

Amidst the continuous crisis and destruction of our lives brought by the decaying Greek capitalist system, we should aggressively state our anti-capitalist manifesto

Our program of transitional demands which should be linked to our strategic struggle for revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism.

• Overthrow the coalition government and any newly emerging bourgeois government formation

• Down with everyone responsible for the crisis: Troika, financial speculators, productive and unproductive capitalists, asset-strippers, and predators

• Refuse to pay for the crisis, whether in euros or in drachmas

• No sacrifice for the euro

• Abolish the debt. Not a penny to the creditors

• Freeze and abolish any workers’ debts

• Abolish VAT for all basic necessities (food, drink, etc.)

• Civil disobedience and refusal to pay the new imposed taxes

• Increase taxes on capital

• Nationalisation under workers’ control of the banks and the big business with no compensation

• Abolish the political and legal protection of companies that are declared bankrupt. Demand that the workers get paid all the wages that are owned to them. Expropriate the employers’ wealth (both personal or in the form of other companies) of every company that is declared “bankrupt”, in order to compensate all workers.

• Workers’ control of prices, wage increases, reduction in working hours, work for all

• Pension increases in line with wages, and a reduced age of retirement

• Ban redundancies. Unemployment benefit in line with wages

• For a public sector in the service of the people and society’s needs against today’s public sector, interrelated with corporations, contractors and corruption

• For an extension of education, health, transport and welfare provision.

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