Greeks take to buses and roads in new protests

A new front is opening in the struggle between Greece’s Socialist government and its beleaguered subjects as public and private transport users co-ordinate mass sabotage in the face of spiralling prices.

On January 8th angry public transport users sealed ticket machines and refused en masse to ride buses, trains or underground services as part of a nationwide protest against ticket price increases of up to 180%.

The hikes come at the same time as a raft of painful government changes kick in for the new year including the killing off of public subsidies for transport, tax hikes, job cuts and rising utility prices.

Incomes are also falling as part of a catastrophic 5% shrinking of the economy, a situation which EU-imposed austerity measures has done few favours for in recent months.

Activists are planning to follow up on the action on January 9th with a mass campaign of non-payment and blockades against the privately-owned national road tolls network, which has been given the go-ahead to hike prices in 2011, ostensibly to pay for infrastructure improvements.

The popular campaign to end the road tolls system has led to around a third of all drivers on Greek roads regularly refusing outright to pay the tolls, which organisers say have amounted to little more than extortion with almost no improvements being made to the network.

In a statement released today, stopcartel.org noted: “The roads are the people's property, constructed with the money of the taxpayers over the years and therefore nobody has the right to demand payment for their use.”

The government has responded to the possibility of disruption by threatening arrests and the imposition of heavy fines or even imprisonment, which stopcartel.org argues would violate the country’s constitution.

Comments

Rob Ray
Jan 10 2011 12:30

NB// The date was wrong on this, the road toll protest was supposed to be on January 9th. Quick report culled from the stopcartel website from the event:

Quote:
Tens of thousands of struggling people flooded highways on Sunday, occupying toll booths across the country and allowing the drivers to pass through freely.

The unprecedented Panhellenic uprising is a resounding slap to the "parrots" of the media and government, which in a concerted effort to intimidate the movement have dispersed fabrications in the press in recent days, confirming the role that staff of multinational companies already have in our consciences.

The Nationwide Movement 'We will not pay the fees for their crisis" has become an organised, collective subversion and our struggle has spread to every corner of Greece.

Hundreds of thousands of drivers went through without paying for the toll hike, celebrating with a succession of cheers and horns blasting. Tens of thousands of leaflets were distributed urging people not to pay.

The Committee of Residents, Workers and Citizens-Nationwide Coordination has lasted 14 months on the road, relentless and irreconcilable, no haggling with the authorities, contractors or bankers, establishing local assemblies as decision-making bodies making decisions without scribes and Pharisees, while politicising the struggle of the working population, promoting self-organization as one of the most important tasks against those who steal our lives.

The conclusion of today's nationwide mobilization is one: "We take the destiny of life in our hands" and extend our struggle on all fronts."

The roads are a public social good that we must not negotiate!