Thursday, 16 December 2010

Greece: A Tsunami of Strikes amidst continued Disunity on the Left

Despite the recent electoral wipeout of PASOK the government is insistent in implementing every IMF measure turning the country back to the 19th century in terms of labour relations. The new laws have provoked a massive reacton.
Having therefore announced they are going to implement the changes to the labour law abolishing collective bargaining, the privatisation of all state owned corporations and continuing indefinitely the IMF payments to foreign bond holders, a tsunami of strikes are occurring this week with a General Strike on 15th December and continued transport strikes as this is being written.

7th General Strike-Union Parades

Following the well worn pattern of meeting in different squares the Greek TUC with ADEDY (UNITE in Greece) and PAME (KKE’s) Union Federation marched towards Parliament and Sindagma Square and the usual union parades didn’t take the same course of events as expected. For the last week there have been strikes on different days in the railways, the buses, the banks, air traffic control Aegean Airways etc. A general strike was called, the last of the year, 7th in total, of the by now monthly on average response since the IMF arrived in Greece.

Police Provocation?

The size of the demo once more was impressive. Probably the largest since the large demo on 5th May (which led to the death of 3 bank workers at Marfin Bank) probably between 150-200k and the social composition of the crowd wasn’t the usual ‘suspects’ of the Left, but many working class people with many students and university youth this time, influenced immensely by the struggles that have erupted in Britain, Italy, Portugal and Spain in the last period, showed a persistence of not wanting to leave the streets. The government had thousands of police and riot police present. They even brought the infamous Dias (motorcycle cops). The police sensing the crowd had ‘evil’ intentions, wanting their salaries and pension cuts reversed and the IMF out of the country, out of nowhere from the ranks of the demonstrators a couple of black clad characters threw Molotov cocktails, smoke and sound bombs to a group of riot police in the front of the Grande Bretagne Hotel on the corner of Sindagma Sq opposite Parliament. Was this another police provocation to disperse the demo?

What then followed was a violent police reaction with the aim of dispersing the thousands of demonstrators who were on a circular route back towards Omonia and the offices of GSEE passing Parliament on the way. The demo was attacked by teargas and police charges in many different places splitting it into three. The KKE rushed away from the scene of the conflict going towards the other direction of everybody else. Due to the mayhem attacks started to occur to various government buildings such as the Ministry of Economics and the National PostOffice as well as the Greek TUC building which was attacked. The police dropped volumes of tear gas making demonstrating near enough impossible.

Ex-Greek Minister of Transport=Early Xmas Present

During the last week a near insurrection has occurred in the area on the outskirts of Athens called Keratea after hundreds of riot police are enforcing an EU directive to introduce a new dump site after the previous ones have been labelled full. Daily fines have been imposed on Greece by Brussels numbering in the tens of thousands of Euros. Without asking the local population they have imposed a dump site. Over a period of a year protests have occurred and resistance. On Sunday a real insurrection occurred with the local population arming itself with sticks, stones, even weapons and charging against the hundreds of riot police. Battles occurred overnight with many injured on both sides.
On Monday over 2,000 police, firefighters and navy port workers demonstrated in Athens against the IMF cuts in their wages and benefits which they alleged to be in the region of 20%. Under this background of increased restiveness in many sections of the population when the General Strike came under attack people reacted. They came across an MP and attacked him.
The media which was also on strike didn’t report initially anything. It was widely reported on the internet. But the press bureaus of the Left (KKE, Sinaspismos, Democratic Left) condemned the attack. Not a word about what happened in Keratea where many more heads were cracked open. All the parliamentary parties are sensing a social storm is coming. Privatising everything and abolishing collective bargaining will destroy the labour movement in its entirety. This is a battle that cannot be lost.
The divisions in the Left have to be overcome and the unions should start to coordinate their strikes indefinitely. Without a political orientation to fight for power, get the IMF out, a social explosion without leadership Argentinian style will provide the alternative, due to the vaccum of the Left. Either which way more incidents against MP’s will be on the cards.

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