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.