Greek workers are set to go on general strike tomorrow (Wednesday 19th March) in protest of the government's planned pension reforms.
The government's reforms would mean the merging of pension funds and increasing the pension age for some workers. The government, however, has not made public any details on the size of savings that will accrue from the reforms. The trade unions have also argued that the current pension system could survive if bosses were made to pay their contributions. The Greek state itself owes €10 billion (around £7.5 billion) to the pension funds.
The changes will gradually be implemented as of 2009 and in the case of private sector workers will be applicable only to those who began their insured working life after 1992.
Rolling strikes by bin collectors and electricians have caused rubbish to pile up and occasional blackouts to occur throughout the country for the past two weeks. Members of the municipal workers’ union that have refused to go back to work stormed the offices of the Athens city council yesterday and staged a sit-in protest, resulting in the cancellation of the council board meeting.
Bin bags have been piling up in the streets. Scabbing bin collectors have been out trying to break the strike leading to occupation of landfills by striking workers and their supporters. Riot police have been sent in to remove strikers from the landfills. There have also been incidence of demonstrators throwing uncollected bin bags at police lines.
Bank workers have also been on strike in recent months, most recently being out on strike since Monday. There have also been occupations at Greek universities with more planned in the coming days.
General strike tomorrow
The general strike will see a huge amount of workers in a wide range of industries going on strike throughout Greece:
:arrow: Almost all forms of public transport will shut down. Bus and tram employees will be on strike while the metro and ISAP will only operate between 10am and 3pm to help demonstrators get to central Athens
:arrow: Power cuts are expected to continue as Public Power Corporation employees strike
:arrow: Rubbish collectors will continue to be on strike
:arrow: Air traffic controllers said no planes will take off or land at Athens' international airport as well at any other airport on mainland Greece and on the Greek islands. Olympic Airlines are operating only one flight per destination. Aegean Airlines will cancel 23 flights and change the time for another 28
:arrow: Ferries and boats would remain docked at ports around the country, paralysing transport to and from hundreds of Greek islands as port authorities join the strike
:arrow: Hospitals will only treat emergency patients
:arrow: The journalists' union plan to launch a 24-hour nationwide strike resulting in a news blackout. The strike will disrupt newspaper production, public television news broadcasts and internet sites
:arrow: Archaeologists operating the country's main tourist attraction, the Acropolis, and other ancient sites across the city said they would probably shut them down for the day. Archaeologists showed the willingness to strike last year, protesting poor bonuses and precarious working contracts
:arrow: Banks, tax offices, schools, courts and all other government services will also be closed for the day.
:arrow: Greece's two biggest unions, GSEE and public sector union ADEDY, jointly representing over 2.5 million workers, are holding a rally in central Athens at noon tomorrow