Greek Civil Servants Fight 15,000 Sackings

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Greek Ministry for Culture civil servants and archaeologists demonstrating last Friday in Athens with their banners. The left banner addressed to troika and government reads ‘Get out!’, the right hand banner reads ‘Violence is the destruction of culture’
Greek Ministry for Culture civil servants and archaeologists demonstrating last Friday in Athens with their banners. The left banner addressed to troika and government reads ‘Get out!’, the right hand banner reads ‘Violence is the destruction of culture’

GREEK civil servants staged a one-day strike in the Athens area last Friday against the coalition government’s plan to sack some 15,000 ministries workers in August.

The government is presenting these barbaric mass sackings as ‘work location transfers’.

About 2,000 civil servants besieged the Ministry for Reforms building from 7.00am on Friday with their banners, and chanted slogans for the overthrow of the government, for occupations, for an indefinite strike and against the European Union and the IMF.

They were joined by contingents of state secondary school teachers and hospitals.

At lunchtime they march to the nearby Vouli (Greek parliament) building shouting ‘no transfers, no sackings – for occupations and strikes!’ and ‘Rise up people – throw out the government, the EU and the IMF!’

Earlier, dozens of archaeologists and museum staff picketed the Acropolis and distributed leaflets in several languages to tourists.

Civil servants’ marches and meetings took place in several Greek cities.

But Greek civil servants are fighting the government under a rotten trade union bureaucratic leadership which refuses to hear and act on the calls for occupations and an indefinite strike.

Likewise, the leaders of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) offer just moral support and reject the calls for occupations and for an indefinite strike.

The troika of the EC-IMF-ECB are demanding hundreds of thousands of sackings in the public sector over the next two years, with wholesale closures of civil service departments, schools, colleges, university departments, social services and hospitals.

In its recent Report, regarding Greece, the IMF states that far more sackings and wages cuts are necessary to drive the working class to the ground and hopefully keep capitalism alive in the country.

The mood of the civil servants on Friday’s march was one of desperation and worry; they are furious that their trade union leaders and SYRIZA refuse to put up a real fight for the overthrow of the government.

But at the same time, they see that only through fighting would they be able to defend their jobs.

There is no doubt that tens of thousands of civil servants will be on the streets in the immediate period and will take all kinds of action, breaking through the fetters imposed by their rotten leaders.

The issue to defend jobs and lives is becoming, day by day, identical with the struggle to build revolutionary leadership in the unions and in the working class.

Below is the text of the Archaeologists leaflet that was distributed last Friday at the Acropolis . . .

‘STOP HUMAN SACRIFICES IN GREECE’

The Troika gives the orders, our government executes them: Another 10,000 civil servants must be fired, like modern “Iphigenias”, in order to satisfy the markets. Cultural heritage services have to shrink, so that our economy reaches the targets of the “rescue” programme.

Today, at 19,000 archaeological sites and 210 museums all over Greece, work 6,900 archaeologists, art historians, anthropologists, conservators, museologists, engineers, administration staff, guards, excavation workers etc.

During the last three years, all of us are experiencing a huge change: our wages are falling, our colleagues working on contracts got fired, all services are facing a serious shortage of staff and money and even the most basic needs are met with difficulty.

By the end of August the government wants to fire 500 employees from the cultural heritage sector, without a single reasonable argument!

They want to get rid of highly experienced and qualified employees who love their job and – despite their low wages – are trying to do their best under extremely difficult working conditions.

We are by no means “supernumerary”, and this is the reason why we refuse to be sacrificed to facilitate their plans.

Besides, our dismissal will not help the state’s economy.

On the contrary, closing archaeological sites and museums, stopping archaeological excavations, monuments restoration, art exhibitions and educational activities, will simply cause damage to the country’s profile and will certainly reduce the income of the tourism industry.

When you visit an archaeological site, a monument or a museum, when you go to a concert, a play or an art performance, have you ever wondered how many people have worked so that you are able to enjoy your visit?

“Behind the scenes” you will find all kinds of working people, you will find us.

The monuments have a voice, our own!

Please help us stop this crime and unite your voice with ours.

Let’s say NO to the policies that wish to privatise all cultural and social goods, creating nothing than poverty and misery to the people in Greece and elsewhere in Europe! LET’S STOP THEM!

The employees at the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.’