Strikes greet austerity measures in Greece

Less than 24h after the announcement of the hardest austerity measures in the history of the greek republic, strikes have erupted in the public sector.

Tax-collectors and customs officers have been the first public sector branches to spontaneously react to the government's austerity measures. The two public sector branches have gone on a 48h preemptive strike, halting all tax-office transactions and controls as well as freezing import-export activities. At the same time, the employees of the Ministry of Economics, responsible for imposing the austerity measures, have also gone on a 48h strike, blocking all entrances to the Ministry in Athens.

The spontaneous mobilisations come in a general climate of anger when the call of the Greek Prime Minister for national unity and self-sacrifice has already become the laughing stock in the massively popular morning satirical programs of bourgeois radio stations - amongst the general ridicule of the government televised drama, mock adds in the name of the Industrialist Club declaring that "its time for the poor to pay, the rich have payed enough" are being broadcasted. Anger is rising after the revelation of details concerning the austerity plan. These include a 2 year extra work before pension (from 35 to 37 years in total). The Communist Party (KKE) has called workers to "wage a war of counterattack" against the measures, while the Coalition of Radical Left has made the unprecedented move to ask the KKE to forge a front against the measures. The main opposition party of the Conservatives, kicked out of government last October, has pledged to support the government. Signaling the extreme-right turn of the party, one of its main MPs even called for the release of the fascist editor arrested two weeks ago during a neonazi attack on an anti-racist demo. A counter-demo against an anti-immigration demo on Saturday has been called by various anarchist groups.

At the same time, the Ministry of Agriculture has declared it is unable to solve its issue with the farmers, who angered after the Minister managed to slip through their blockade of the Salonica Airport via rural backstreets, moved yesterday to block for several hours all motorway entrances to greece's second largest city. Farmer blockades continue to close the way to Bulgaria, was well as many major highways in the north of the country.

It must be noted that the trial of Alexandros Grigoropoulos murderers has been postponed for March when the procedure will begin again from scratch. At the same time the high court in Salonica has declared the Egyptian fishermen's strike in Nea Michanonia legal.

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Feb 4 2010 14:44


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Feb 4 2010 16:38

Update: The first signs of internal critique towards the government's austerity measures have surfaced. A PASOK sub-group has attacked the measures as "the toughest, most relentless neoliberalist policy since 1974". At the same time the Minister of National Economy Ms Katseli has taken distance from the PM's policy by declaring that it is meaningful only if the main target of the measures are the rich, "social justice is most vital" she added in a sign of cabinet discordia.

At the same time, the workers of the occupied Kanakis Factory in Volos have called for a protest march against the measures for Tuesday, while already many km long lines of trucks are accumulating at the various land borders of the country, immobilised due to the custom workers 48h strike.

On other news, the 21 year old man arrested in relation to the NFC urban guerrilla case has been imprisoned by the persecuting authorities pending his trial. The defense has appealed on the grounds that the only evidence presented against him is fingerprints on a plastic bag and on a magazine found in the supposed safe-house of Chalandri where the original arrests took place. The man's name has not been mentioned in any of the declarations of the previously arrested for the same case.

Feb 4 2010 23:17

thanks for these updates - you say these strikes were spontaneous, does this mean that workers walked out and put up picket lines which spread? Or that the union leadership called them but without giving proper notice to the employers?

Feb 5 2010 13:22

In the case of the tax-collectors and custom officers its the former, while for the employees of the Ministry of Economics, from I could gather from blogs and media, the latter. The PM's announcement has led today to a slump of more than 4% in the athens stock market at 100 points below the symbolic limit of 2,000.

At the same time an uprising of 124 detained immigrants in the prison camp of Venna, in Komotini, has broken out. The immigrants are demanding a right of way towards the city of Komotini, and have set fire to the premises. Already more than 40 immigrants have been charged with "attempted rebellion" and "attempted jailbreak". Strong riot police forces have moved into the premises to repress the uprising.

Feb 5 2010 18:43

Update: The workers of Wind Telecoms have announced a 24h strike on the 10th of February (the date of the 24h strike of public sector workers). At the same time mass resignations have manifested in the greek police after it became known that the austerity measures include a rise of police service before pension from 25 to 35 years. The ministry of public order has warned the officers their resignations are a threat to the corps and announced the formation of a new motorised metropolitan police corps which will comprise of nearly two thousand police moterbikers for rapid response operations meant to "preserve the social peace". It is widely believed the new corps is part of a general emergency plan for containing popular anger and violence in response to the demolition of the welfare state.

At the same time, in Salonica a protest march against security and its ideology is underway at the time of writing, while in Athens the rectorial headquarters of the university of Athens in Propylea have been occupied by antifascist radicals anarchists etc who have given out an open call to create 24h of "counterinformation and fermentation" against the fascist anti-immigration demo that has been called at the same place for Saturday noon. Also tomorrow jews from all around greece will form a demo at the burned synagogue of Chania as a first mass response to antisemitism bred by the extreme-right.The demo will gather outside the ruins of the synagogue and march to the city hall of Chania.