Spring wave of strikes hits Greece

Lawyers have called a 3-day long strike and doctors continue withdrawing their labour against the austerity measures, train workers halt their locomotives, while four different labour marches are to be performed within the day by judicial officers, firemen and pensioners in Athens, along with a central public sector march in the afternoon.

Just a few days before the long holiday season of the greek easter, which is the government's main hope for easing tension, a new wave of strikes and protest marches against the austerity measures is hitting the country.

Lawyers have declared a three day strike against the austerity measures for the 23, 24 and 26 of March (the 25th is a national holiday). Meawhile, doctors are continuing to withdraw their labour from the country's public hospitals in demand of the immediate payment of all their owed salaries. Athens doctors will be seeing the Minister of Health today, although their Salonica colleagues refused to see the Minister for negotiations a few days ago. Yesterday doctors across the country performed a coordinated 6 hour stoppage and a demo outside the Ministry of Health in Athens. It must be noted that talks between National Electricity (DEH) workers and the Minister of Labour are in progress. The DEH union has declared that if the talks fail it will move to rolling 48h strikes that will plunge the country in darkness.

At the same time, train and suburban train workers are performing a 4 hour stoppage today against the measures, during the noon peak-time that will see all trains come to a standstill. Judicial officers continue their daily 2-h work stoppage campaign against the measures, which has brought chaos to the greek courts. The judicial officers will gather today at 10:00 at the Eirinodikio Courts and march to the Parliament. Meanwhile, firemen have called a demo at Omonoia for 11:00 intending to march against the measures to the Ministry of Finance. A little later pensioners have called a march against the measures to the Ministry of National Economy. They will be joined by National Telecommunications, National Railway and National Post workers also protesting against pension cuts. Later in the day, at 18:00, ADEDY, the public sector umbrella union, has called a central protest march against the measures from Propylaea to the Parliament. At the same time, anarchists are calling for an anti-racist demo at Amerikis square, an hang out area of African immigrants coveted by neon-nazi groups.

The continuous protest marches are expected to keep the centre of Athens off limits for cars throughout the day. The government is meanwhile launching a mixed campaign of rumors and declarations against these very rumors concerning the country seeking IMF help, or going bust, or changing back to its old national currency. This strategy of confusion is supplanted by newspaper talk of secret printing of old currency notes in the Treasury vaults, and about the 25th of March being a "critical day" for the currency. At the same time the government is trying to let some steam out of radical protester's anger, by promising an immediate reversal of the anti-hood law and an immediate ban on CCTV in public spaces.

Posted By

Mar 23 2010 07:58


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Gareth woz ere
Mar 23 2010 20:37

Taxikipali, your posts on the situation in Greece are extremely informative. Looking at the situation from a marxist perspective it seems that the Greek crisis involves a conjunction of both optimal (for revolution) objective circumstances (the inability of the economy to provide basic needs) and subjective conditions of consciousness (Greece's militant working class). Yet while there has been strike after strike and protest after protest there doesn't seem to be any cohesive drive to overthrow and replace capitalism. What I'd really like to know is what kind of revolutionary agency exists in Greece? Is there any leadership that is uniting manufacturing and service industry workers with students etc in a common vision? Is there anything resembling workers councils or rank and file high level organisation? Or is everything just dominated by bourgeois reformist unions? Reading through the lefty press, its very hard to get a feel for this sort of thing, as everything is written with a party-line agenda.

Any comments from anyone on this would be great.

Mar 23 2010 20:48

Update: all protest marches were completed without clashes or police repression. The cops had closed off access to the road of the Parliament, blocking the way of the march with a raw of armoured riot police vans. After loads of heckling and chanting, they had to retreat and open the way. Apart form Athens protest marches against the austerity measures took place also in Salonica, Volos, Heraklion and Ioannina. Meanwhile the talks of doctors with the Minister of Health have collapsed despite her agreeing to pay all owed wages. The doctors will continue withdrawing their labour demanding a guarantee of over-time payments. Finally, DEH reps have announced the talks with the Minister of Labour were satisfactory and have cancelled tomorrow's 48h strike, warning however of a return to strikes in case the government tries to mess up with the social security scheme as rumors have it.

@ Gareth: no such agency as you mention exists or looks likely to arise in Greece. Of course if you ask the Communist Party it will happily identify itself with it retrospectively since 1927...that is why many of us here believe that the situation is greece can generate endless uprisings, insurrections and revolts, but not a revolution in the classic sense of the term. That said, the last time a revolution occurred here was the mid 1940s, and the agent was the Communist Party and its People's Liberation Army.

Mar 23 2010 21:25
Gareth woz ere
Mar 23 2010 21:50

Thanks for the response. If there is no alternative to the communist party offering any kind of leadership it sounds like there won't be much real progress. It would seem that without at least an individual or organization spearheading the revolt it can only lack direction and purpose. Additionally, I'd have thought that without rank and file organizing amongst the workers there is no real revolutionary agency, whether there are leaders or not. Yet workers councils do arise and come into existence as agencies of worker control in contemporary settings in Latin America for example. It would be interesting to know of any analysis which looks into why autonomous workers' organisations are lacking in contemporary Europe.

Mar 24 2010 08:14

Update: passenger ship workers are threatening to halt all boats during the mass easter exodus from Athens as a response to the new measures which bring taxing of sailor salaries from 1% up to 6% (and of senior officer's salaries from 3% to 9%) as well to the refusal of the Shipping Business Association to sign a new collective contract with the workers.

@ Gareth, actually the KKE (CP of Greece) is more of a threat than an irrelevant factor. It controls more that 1/5 of GSEE seats, and can mass tens of thousands of workers and students within a day's call. Its mechanism is the oldest and mightiest party apparatus in the country, with long experience of underground work and guerrilla warfare. They are an efficient and ruthless bunch of modern stalinists, not forlorn relics of the past. As a reminder, the Communist Youth (KNE) has its own riot repression units the Communist Youth for the Restoration of Order (KNAT - which rimes with MAT, the state Units for the Restoration of Order). Back in 1998 during the Polytechnic Uprising anniversary march the KNAT surrounded the anarchist block beat it and surrendered it to the MAT. Thus the KKE's influence on the anti-measures mobilisations is not simply spectacular stunts by some leftist group, but a method of solidifying concrete power in the hands of the greatest pimp of labour struggles in greek history.

Yesterday, the all-hated ex-PM of the right, Mr Mitsotakis gave an important interview where he claimed that "if there is a social uprising, which we must all do whatever we can to avert, political parties will be proven irrelevant. They will be but a sad memory". The only possible exception to this is the KKE, which has managed to survive and flourish against all odds since 1927. Despite itself being discredited as either too authoritarian or too weak towards power by the last generation, the imprint of the KKE discourse and mythology even in the most anarchist mind is terribly strong (any anarchist feast or rally plays old KKE songs for example) and it plays an important role in people's identities and imaginary. This is even more amazing given that greece does not have and never did have any industrial proletariat of any great number, meaning more than 150,000 men and women (which makes workers councils an effort that has been relevant only in periods of industrialisation like the 1920-1930s and the late 1970s, when it was aggressively fought against by the KKE).

Mar 24 2010 23:28

Update: teachers today formed a demo disrupting the central pupil parade for the anniversary of the 1821 revolution against the Ottoman Empire as a protest against the measures. The parade is a fascist relic from the dictatorship of the 1930s and is overlooked by the Minister of Education. At the time of writing street battles are unfolding in Exarcheia, after riot police forces guarding the governing party's national headquarters came under attack with rocks and molotov cocktails. The area has been cordoned off by strong repression forces and is off limits. This is the second attack against riot police forces in a week, the previous one being against units guarding the Ministry of Development in Kaningos square.

Apr 2 2010 02:18

Maybe there can be a meeting between leaders of the KKE and from other left groups about to control he companies and to control the cities.
If it is not easy to do, but for a revolutionairy situation it is necessary
With more power, you get more results
More people working together for the same goal, is more impressive

I wish the resistance, the immigrants and the workers of Greece a lot of succes and good luck!

Apr 2 2010 08:50

The KKE does not hold talks with any other groups even if they wished to do so...its power is too large to negotiate anyway. Imagine that today morning -the day of the great easter car exodus from cities to the villages- the KKE managed to occupy 13 road tolls across the country and keep them open for motorists to pass without paying a cent to the road-building corporations. And if people call this a spectacular move, well the spectacle has a great effect on people's minds (and pockets).