Monday, 1 August 2011

Greek Taxi Drivers on Indefinite Strike against IMF

For three weeks now Greek taxi drivers have been on strike against the neo-liberal measures of the IMF and the quisling PASOK government. They have had marches, blockades of ports and airports and have essentially bypassed their elected representatives. In Crete, at Iraklion airport the taxi drivers blockaded the airport for 5 hours, teargas was fired and conflict ensued. North and South Greece was cut off due to the blockade at Rio-Antirio. PASOK offices have been attacked in Northern Greece and have been destroyed.

Many taxi drivers at least 25% have paid around E200k for their licences. The govt announced overnight that their licences are to be worth zero and they would issue new licences for a small sum. There are already 14,000 licences many of which are also fake and don’t actually have a licence to operate and due to the economic crisis takings have been reduced significantly. The destruction of their licences without the state undertaking to buy them out has pushed taxi drivers to the edge.
They have adopted the tactics and strategy of a generalised guerrilla war with the govt in the middle of summer right bang in the middle of the tourist season. When large cruise ships with 5-10k passengers are unable to dock in Piraeus, or no taxis can be found from one end of Greece to the other, this shows a level of commitment which hasn’t been seen so far by any other section. The taxi drivers meet daily and decide on the spot what type of action to take thus bypassing the leadership. Indeed today Limberopoulos the leader of the taxi drivers stated we cannot control their reactions essentially stating that he condemns their form of resistance as after all the leaders of all the traditional leaderships are allied with existing political parties of formations and were brought into those positions in the pre-IMF era.

With the govt reshuffle during the events in June (protests by Indignants and 3 general strikes culminating in the battle of Athens) which convulsed Greece a new minister of Transport took over called Rangousis and he sought fit to crush the taxi-drivers in the middle of the summer season gambling on the fact that if they are defeated that will open the way for the liberalisation of all the closed professions as dictated by the IMF-EU.

The bankruptcy of the Left is highlighted once more as they are spectators of an unfolding drama in the struggle of the Greek taxi drivers. If they are defeated, companies will take over many of the taxis and the drivers will become salaried employees many of whom in order to keep the wages to a bare minimum will end up being recently arrived immigrants and the taxi drivers will suffer the same fate as suffered by farmers, truckers before them.

Apart from verbal messages of support the KKE abstains. The Euros on the other hand openly condemned the forms of struggle of the taxi drivers in Parliament saying it doesn’t do justice to their struggle. One of the taxi drivers slogans has been ‘with blood we gained our licences, with blood we will give them away’ ‘taxi drivers are here united and strong’ (paraphrasing an old PASOK slogan)

The taxi drivers like the truckers before them were eventually sold out by their leaders. Union leaders who belong to the previous generation of sellouts committed either to the ruling PASOK govt or the KKE. 13 regionaly leders without a vote from the base decided to end the strike whilst 6 voted for a continuation with Thessalonika voting as well.

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