Protests over workers' deaths met by police and fascist repression

Riot police protecting the Golden Dawn office in Aspropyrgos

A fire at the Hellenic Petroleum(EL.PE) refinery cost the lives of four workers back in May. Since then protests against this industrial 'accident' targeting the second richest family in Greece have been meet by joint police and fascist repression.

Early in the morning of May 8th a fire blazed through the EL.PE refinery in the Aspropyrgos area of Athens. Reports say a warning alarm failed to go off and as a result several people were injured in the fire. Six people were taken to hospital with severe injuries including up to 80% burns. Four of the six, Andonios Avrambos, Charalambos Defteraios, Ramadan Delilaj and Costas Maggouras, would die of their injuries over the course of the next weeks.

Aspropyrgos is an area of heavy industry in the far western suburbs of Athens and this latest incident adds to the area's reputation for work 'accidents' and environmental pollution. Aspropyrgos was in the news again this week as another fire at a recycling plant sent a toxic cloud floating over Athens as the fire brigades lack the needed funds and equipment to quickly deal with the fire. As with many such incidents arson is expected as the plant was coming under investigation and the company had been previously fined over environmental issues.

Anger over the deaths of the four workers has been directed against the Latsis family. By some counts the family is the second richest in Greece and as well as owning a large stake in EL.PE(along with the Troika mandated and corruption riddled privatisation fund) also has interests in the banking and shipping sectors. Other controversies involving the Latsis family include the deals done to refund Eurobank in 2013, which involved the Greek state taking on an additional €13bn debt, and the allegedly illegal construction of The Mall shopping centre in northern Athens. The family then is very much a part of the Greek capitalist oligarchy the Syriza government has promised to campaign against.

A series of protests and reactions to the deaths of the EL.PE workers has been meet with strong repression by the state. On June 4th anarchists visited the Latsi family house and painted slogans including 'Latsi-Murder' on the walls. A few days later dozens of people were detained outside the offices of EL.PE on the grounds that they were intending to protest. During the night of June 10th people sabotaged several ATM's of National Bank branches- another interest of the Latsis family. The largest of the demonstrations occurred on Saturday the 13th as a motorcade demonstration headed for Aspropyrgos.

The way to the EL.PE refinery was blocked by squads of riot police on the grounds the demonstration was provocative. As the demonstration passed a local office of fascist Golden Dawn it came under attack from a group of Golden Dawn supporters. Fascists passed through the lines of the riot police to attack the demonstration causing injuries and destroying some of the bikes. This attack was then followed up by the riot police themselves who attacked with tear gas. This day was a busy one for Golden Dawn as in a separate incident one of their guards drew a gun and fired into the air after an office in central Athens came under attack.

This case is a clear example of the state protecting the interests of Greek capitalists. The presence in government of the radical left Syriza has done nothing to change this situation as the Syriza administered police and their fascist allies still work hand in hand on the ground to protect the interests of the wealthy. While Syriza concerns itself with negotiations over the debts and bailouts, capital continues to kill through workplace 'accidents' protected by the state's security services and its fascist allies.