TENS of thousands of workers and youth mass day and night in the grounds around the occupied Greek State TV and Radio (ERT) building in Athens which has become a revolutionary centre of resistance against the parliamentary junta imposed on Greece by the troika of the EC-IMF-ECB.
They are listening and taking part in discussions, and in the evenings enjoying first class concerts by top musicians and singers.
Older workers participating in the meetings say that ERT has become another Athens Polytechnic uprising.
This was in 1973, when the students of Athens Polytechnic, along with thousands of workers who joined them, occupied the Polytechnic building demanding the overthrow of the military junta that then ruled Greece. They were crushed by the junta’s tanks but nine months later the junta was overthrown.
Workers’ feelings were expressed by the President of the Athens Metro trade union (SELMA), Antonis Stamatopoulos, who said that ERT must become ‘a new but victorious Polytechnic’.
This spontaneous action by workers, youth and professional people has created a huge political crisis for the regime of right-wing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, while his counterpart in Turkey, Tayyip Ertogan, has unleashed a pogrom against Turkish workers, hoping to put down the uprising.
Last Saturday at the ERT grounds tens of thousands congregated for the fifth successive day. It was evident that workers and youth now feel absolutely confident and determined to carry out a revolutionary overthrow of the Samaras regime which is ruling through dictatorial edicts bypassing the Greek Vouli (parliament) altogether.
This was made clear at a mass meeting last Saturday evening of about 300 trade unionists and representatives of unions which was held at the ERT building and initiated by the Joint Committee of the Printers’, Technicians’ and Journalists’ unions and the Co-ordination of Trade Union Branches.
The meeting lasted for over two and a half hours with some 50 speakers.
At the end of the meeting two motions were accepted; one calling for solidarity with the Turkish people, and the other calling on GSEE, ADEDY and the big trade union federations to organise, this week, a general strike for the overthrow of the government of the hated Austerity Accords.
The vast majority of the speakers forcefully called on the GSEE (Greek TUC) and ADEDY (public sector federation of trade unions) to call a general strike on Monday (yesterday) to overthrow Samaras.
But the leaders of the GSEE and ADEDY present at Saturday’s meeting refused to convene a meeting of their Executive the next day to take the decision.
Vagelis Moutafis (GSEE) said that a meeting would be held on Monday morning, as trade unionists shouted at him ‘decide now for general strike on Monday!’
Trade unionists pointed out that the treacherous GSEE-ADEDY bureaucracy is allowing the government to hold the initiative, and divert workers’ attention to a meeting scheduled for yesterday afternoon of the tripartite coalition government’s Prime Minister Samaras with his two junior partners, the leader of the PASOK social democrats Vagelis Venizelos and the leader of the Democratic Left party Fotis Kouvelis.
At the same time, the Greek High Court is scheduled to announce its verdict on the ERT shutdown last Tuesday by a government decree, which has never been discussed in the Vouli (Greek parliament).
Both Venizelos and Kouvelis have pronounced their disagreement with Samaras over the closure of ERT and have stated that a general election is not a good idea, but if Samaras wants one then so be it.
Following hundreds of trade unions and workers’ and professionals’ associations, the Association of Greek Judges has now issued a statement against the closure of ERT which they describe as an ‘unconstitutional act’.
Last Thursday, the EBU (European State TV Corporations) President Jean-Paul Philippot, Director General of state Belgian TV, condemned the Greek government’s shutdown of state TV and Radio broadcaster ERT as a violent act and said that this was ‘the worst kind of censorship’.
The only support for the government has come from the fascist party Golden Dawn.
These statements show the sharp divisions within the Greek government, troika and ruling class caused by the revolutionary upsurge of workers and youth.
The decision to shut down ERT has come directly from the troika of the EC-IMF-ECB, whose representatives are currently in Athens, who demanded immediate closures of state and public services in order to fill quotas for the sacking of some 25,000 public sector workers by the end of the year and 150,000 by 2015.
At the trade unionists’ meeting at ERT last Saturday the leaders of the Print and Journalists’ unions were sharply criticised for not organising a mass picketing of print works last Friday night, thus allowing scab bourgeois weekend newspapers to be published.
This was after an Athens one-judge court ruled the national media strike as ‘illegal’ last Friday. But the unions have declared new ‘rolling’ (continuous) 24-hours strikes. The Greek Journalists’ Union ESIEA has expelled six journalists for strike breaking.
A speaker from the Revolutionary Marxist League (RML), the Greek Trotskyists, said that Samaras must be overthrown by this mass action of workers through an indefinite political general strike and called for a workers’ and small farmers’ government based on trade unions and Popular Assemblies.
In contrast, the Greek Communist Party (KKE) speakers said that we must not talk of overthrow of government, we must get properly organised first. Christos Kartsiotis, one of the leaders of PAME (KKE’s trade union section) said that ‘we must call mass rallies to send a message to the High Court to issue a decision favourable to ERT workers’(!)
Trades unionists supporting the Coalition of the Radical left party (SYRIZA) called for a one-day general strike as did the majority of speakers and those of the anti-capitalist bloc ANTARSYA.
The leader of SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras was due to speak at a mass rally on Monday night at Syntagma Square in front of the Vouli (Greek parliament).
Many workers demanded that the trade union meetings at ERT must constitute a workers’ delegates body to carry out the fight and also organise mass demonstrations in the centre of Athens as part of a general strike.
Late on Saturday night, the ERT Symphony Orchestra gave an open air concert of Mikis Theodorakis’ famous ‘Axion Esti’ cycle of songs on the poetry of Nobel Prize Winner Odysseus Elytis, with the singer Vasilis Lekkas. Following this dozens of artists appeared playing all kinds of music well into Sunday morning with hundreds of people forming dance circles.
The Joint Committee of Print, Technicians’ and Journalists’ unions have produced a 16-page tabloid called ‘Independent Opinion’, the very name of the newspaper that journalists’ published in the long strike of 1975.
For Sunday ERT workers, who are tramsitting a programme through internet sites, organised discussions and concerts at the ERT building grounds.
l Greek conscript soldiers from 51 military units issued a statement last Saturday condemning the Greek government’s shutdown of ERT (State TV and Radio) stating that ‘we will do whatever we can at our units and in society to support the ERT workers’ struggle.’
The soldiers’ statement also calls on ‘workers, the people and youth to support the mass rallies of solidarity.’
It also demands the ‘overthrow of the anti-labour government policy, the tripartite Greek government, and of the Austerity Accords.’