Two-day Greek General Strike – time for all-out indefinite action!


LAST week the two main Greek trade union organisations representing workers in the public and private sector called a two-day general strike starting today against the new austerity measures being voted on by the Greek parliament tomorrow.

Even before the official strike began, workers in public transport and the media kicked off the strike by walking out yesterday in advance of the official action.

The driving force for this massive mobilisation of workers, small shopkeepers and the poor, is the debate being held this week in the Greek parliament on whether to accept the new round of ‘austerity’ measures being demanded by the Troika – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF – who are determined to screw every penny of the Greek debt out of the very blood of the Greek people.

What the unelected prime minister, Antonis Samaras, will be pleading with MPs to pass on Wednesday is a bill that agrees to implement a further round of cuts amounting to 18 billion euros.

Acceptance and implementation of these cuts is a condition of Greece getting the next loan from the international banks of 31.5 billion euros.

Failure to secure this bail-out will mean that Greece will be completely bankrupt by mid-November.

If Greece is declared bankrupt it will be ejected from the eurozone and the consequences for the international capitalist banking system will be disastrous, leading to a spectacular banking collapse that will bring down the entire system.

This was spelt out yesterday by the HSBC.

In their interim report for the third quarter of 2012 they warned that there is an ‘increased’ risk of a country leaving the eurozone, and admitted that it cannot accurately assess how this will impact on the bank.

In a section called ‘Redenomination risk’ HSBC state: ‘As a result of the continuing distressed conditions experienced by the peripheral eurozone countries, there is an increased possibility of a member state exiting from the eurozone.

‘There is currently no established legal framework within the eurozone and it is not possible to accurately predict the course of events and legal consequences that would ensue. Our current view is that there would be a greater impact on HSBC from a euro exit of Greece, Italy or Spain than from Ireland, Portugal or Cyprus, where our exposures are substantially lower.’

Translated into plain English this means that the biggest bank in Europe is up to its neck in the Greek debt and faces collapse if the Troika is unable to push through cuts that will drive the Greek working class into the ground.

Already, austerity measures imposed on Greece last year have resulted in the highest rates of unemployment in Europe – with youth unemployment running at 50%, while workers pay has been cut, wages unpaid, the mass privatisation of the public sector and the almost complete destruction of the country’s health service.

In July 2011 Greek politicians signed up to a supplementary loan agreement with international lenders that stipulated that workers losing their jobs are forced to meet the full cost of health.

This has led to a situation where hospitals and pharmacies are now demanding cash payment from the unemployed before giving treatment or issuing drugs.

This is capitalist barbarism in action and it will not stop there.

Part of the new bail-out condition is yet further cuts to the health budget of over a billion euros.

The strike wave in Greece this week cannot, as the trade union leaders intend, be just a more militant protest against austerity.

It must be taken forward into an all-out general strike to bring down the government and advance to a workers and small farmers government that will repudiate all debt and advance to socialism as part of the European socialist revolution that will consign capitalism to history.