Greek public workers national strike

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Three Social Services Institute (IKA) workers carrying placards pointing out that they were hired on 5/11 of this year only to be made redundant this month
Three Social Services Institute (IKA) workers carrying placards pointing out that they were hired on 5/11 of this year only to be made redundant this month

ABOUT 5,000 public sector workers took part in two strike marches in Athens last Wednesday against mass sackings and wage cuts.

The one-day national strike was called by ADEDY, the public workers’ trades unions federation.

About 2,000 local government, hospital, teachers and social security workers participated in the ADEDY march through central Athens to the Vouli (Greek parliament).

They chanted ‘Forward, people speak up – dismiss the government and the troika!’, ‘Unemployment and oppression – down with the troika government’, and ‘Down with the markets’ junta!’

Their demands were in total and stark contrast to the ADEDY leaders who spoke at the strike rally.

They called ‘for a fight against the policies of the government’ without any reference to occupations nor to an indefinite strike and to the struggle to bring down the current coalition government imposed by the troika of EC-IMF-ECB.

The demonstrators were forcefully prevented from reaching the building of the Reforms Ministry next to the Vouli by a double line of dozens of armed riot police and police buses across the road.

Workers confronted the police shouting anti-government slogans.

On police orders the two main central Athens Metro stations were shut.

In the other Athens march some 3,000 workers took part from both the private and the public sectors organised by the Stalinist Greek Communist Party’s trade union organisation PAME.

The ADEDY strike was poorly attended and this was reflected in the marches. Once again they proved to be a ‘shot in the air’, a useless protest as Greek workers put it.

The Communist Party march called for ‘making the plutocracy pay for the crisis’ refusing workers’ demands for indefinite strike action and the overthrow of the hated government.

A contingent of the Revolutionary Marxist League (RML), the Greek section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, campaigned in the strike’s mobilisations with leaflets calling for a workers’ fight to overthrow the government and for the kicking out of the trade union movement of the ADEDY and GSEE (Greek TUC) bureaucratic leaders.

The RML’s leaflet pointed out that the cancer of the bureaucracy is allowing the parliamentary junta of the troika to impose widespread poverty on workers and youth.

The RML called for a programme of action based on occupations, peoples’ assemblies and the organisation of an indefinite political general strike to get rid of the capitalist government and elect a socialist workers’ and small farmers’ government.

On the day, the Greek Supreme Court accepted the government’s appeal and overturned an Athens court decision against the imposition of a Household Tax through electricity bills.

The Public Electricity Corporation DEH announced a 15 per cent increase on electricity rates, the first of three for 2013.

• Asylum-seekers and migrants in Greece are being hounded by police operations and right-wing extremists, says Amnesty International.

Greece is seriously failing to respect the rights of asylum-seekers and migrants, Amnesty warned in a briefing published on Thursday.

Every year, tens of thousands of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers from the Middle East, Asia and Africa cross the Greek land and sea border with Turkey in search of shelter, refuge or just a better life within the EU. Few of them find it in Greece.

Amnesty International’s briefing Greece: The end of the road for refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants charts the obstacles they encounter entering the country and challenges they face once there.

‘Against a backdrop of sustained migratory pressure, profound economic crisis and rising xenophobic sentiment, Greece is proving itself incapable of providing even the most basic requirements of safety and shelter to the thousands of asylum seekers and migrants arriving each year,’ said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

A new agency set up by law in 2011 to hear asylum applications is yet to process a single case on account of staffing shortages. In the meantime, at the Attika Aliens Police Directorate in Athens, only around 20 people succeed in registering their asylum application on the one day a week it opens.

The queue forms days in advance and stretches hundreds long down the street. Amnesty International spoke to numerous asylum-seekers who had had to fight their fellows to keep their place.

The majority who do not manage, or give up trying, to register their asylum claims run the risk of arrest in mass sweep operations and of being detained in overcrowded, unhygienic detention facilities for up to a year or more.

‘The Greek authorities continue to systematically detain asylum-seekers and irregular migrants, including unaccompanied children, in breach of international standards and seem to use detention, often in appalling conditions, as a deterrent,’ said Dalhuisen.

He continued: ‘The situation of unaccompanied children, who are amongst the most vulnerable, is particularly worrying. We found several children detained among adults in very poor conditions during a recent visit at the Corinth detention centre. If a place is not found at a reception centre, they are released with no shelter being provided for them.

‘Amnesty International has even received reports of people fleeing conflict and war in countries such as Syria being pushed back to Turkey through the river Evros.’

There has also been a dramatic rise in the number of racially motivated attacks throughout 2012. Asylum-seekers, migrants, community centres, shops and mosques have been the target of such attacks which have been reported on an almost daily basis since the summer.

Cases:

In June 2012, N from Aleppo, Syria, was on a boat with six other Syrians when in the middle of the river, where supposedly the Greek border starts, Greek police arrived in a patrol boat and reportedly started pushing their inflatable dinghy back towards Turkey. Then a police officer used a knife to stab the plastic fabric of the boat, which then sank, leaving people to swim to the Turkish shore.

K, an asylum-seeker of African origin who was trying to apply for asylum for months, was arrested during a sweep operation against irregular migrants in Athens in August 2012 held in a detention facility. K kept on trying to apply for asylum while in detention and in October his asylum application was registered, following multiple interventions by non-governmental organisations. However, in December 2012, he was still being held in detention.

On 10 September 2012, two men dressed in black entered a barbershop run by a Pakistani man. Two Pakistani men who were present, one of them staff, told Amnesty International how the two men verbally attacked the Greek customer who was present for having a haircut in a shop owned by Pakistanis, and stabbed him when he reacted. Then they started destroying the shop and throwing Molotov cocktails. The police came to investigate the incident and arrested two Pakistani nationals because they had no documents. In October, they were both in detention, pending deportation