THE Greek working class delivered a most powerful notice to all concerned last Tuesday with a militant 24-hour general strike called by the GSEE (Greek TUC) against the policies of the current right-wing government.
In the capital Athens, over 40,000 workers and youth took part in three different rallies and then marched for hours to the Vouli (Greek parliament) shouting for the bankers to pay for the crisis. Trade unions reported mass marches in over 60 cities and towns throughout Greece.
The strike was total in telecommunications, the post-office, ports, railways, building sites and public transport, although buses and the metro system operated from 9 am to 4 pm to facilitate workers’ participation to the rallies.
Most flights were cancelled at the Athens international airport. Not a single newspaper was printed, nor news or current affairs programmes were transmitted by the state and private TV channels and radio stations.
Nearly all banks and departments stores in the Athens city centre remained shut. High strike participation percentages were reported at schools and universities, hospitals, local government and civil service, as well as from the apparel and engineering industries.
But the strike proved minimally successful in the large factories, business companies and heavy industries, as the GSEE bureaucrats for years have tolerated the management dominated corrupt trade union leaders in these areas.
About 30,000 workers from nearly all sectors of the Greek working class joined the GSEE and ADEDY (public sector trade union federation) sponsored march, although a few hundred of them attended the rally in front of the GSEE building which showed the contempt of workers for the treacherous trade union leaders. Some 500 electricity workers held their own rally outside the building of the State Electricity Corporation which they have occupied for the last two days in protest against privatisation and high electricity bills.
The President of the electricity workers, Nikos Fotopoulos, said that they are planning more occupations of public buildings throughout Greece but he failed to say if the union will call for the occupation of power plants and mines.
Scores of telecommunication, electricity, post-office, Olympic Airways, dockers and ports’ workers with their banners and flags were in the front of the GSEE-ADEDY demonstration. Large contingents of printers, shop-workers, teachers and university lecturers and staff participated, while about 2,000 school and university students kept on shouting witty anti-government slogans throughout the march. Kostas and Nikos from an Athens secondary school under occupation said that every day more schools are occupied and that occupation co-ordinating committees have been formed in many areas; they said that capitalism must be destroyed but they did not want another PASOK social-democratic government because they are the same as the present right-wing government. As they spoke their school mates started chanting ‘revolution! revolution!’ There are now over 350 secondary schools under students’ occupation all over Greece.
Kostas Karayiannis, an Athens secondary teacher, said that the teachers’ unions are discussing calling an indefinite strike from 1 December; he was all for it but he pointed out that ‘there is a lot of pressure on teachers not to vote for the strike’.
Nikos Belakis, a university lecturer, said that in his union they were also talking about joining in the teachers’ strike on 1 December.
The Greek Communist Party (KKE) held their own 10,000 strong separate march with large contingents of building and engineering workers.
On the eve of the strike the Bank of Greece announced that the country’s trade gap deficit had risen by 13.4 per cent in the January-August period of this year as compared to 2007 and that the foreign investors’ withdrawal of funds out of Greece was on the increase.
The associations of doctors, civil engineers and lawyers have decided to instruct their members not to work this Wednesday in protest against the pensions and taxation policies of the government. Likewise the Greek national association of shop-keepers and small businesses have called on their members to keep their shops shut this Wednesday.
Meanwhile the REVOLUTIONARY MARXIST LEAGUE of Greece, supporters of the International Committee of the Fourth International have issued their political statement about the situation.
No state funds for the banks!
No to Privatisations! No to unemployment! No to high prices!
For an indefinite general strike to bring down the Karamanlis government!
THE collapse of the international credit system is not simply the collapse of the ‘fiction economy’ but the collapse of capitalism itself. Now the capitalist governments and the bankers are trying to save their system through a new Bretton Woods type of agreements as in 1944.
But today the USA and the imperialist countries are hugely indebted. The class war of Thatcherism and Neo-liberalism which imposed low pay, privatisations, flexible working conditions, the destruction of the welfare state and of pensions, remains the only solution for the capitalists.
Neither the European Union nor any capitalist government are to decide on policies beneficial to workers! These are dangerous illusions and diversions coming from the leaderships of the PASOK party social-democrats and from the pro-European Union Coalition of the Left party.
The capitalist governments are preparing new violent attacks on all workers. Jobs, wages and working conditions at Olympic Airways, at the State Electricity Corporation, in the telecommunications, in the ports, in the banks, and in the public services cannot be defended by accepting privatisation as propagated by the leaders of PASOK of the GSEE (Greek TUC) of the ADEDY (public sector trade union federation) and by their supporters at Olympic Airways and elsewhere.
Workers’ jobs, rights and wages can only be defended by the struggle for the overthrow of the government and of capitalism, with occupations, strikes and demonstrations.
The Karamanlis government and the PASOK leadership must pay for the scandals of the workers’ Pension Funds robbery, for the banks’ usury of working class families, for the exploitation of “short-time” workers, for the telephone tapings, for the Olympic Games billions, for the abduction of immigrants, for the property deals with monasteries, with the highest sentence possible – the overthrow of their system!
Capitalism’s collapse leads to an unprecedented slump but also to the socialist revolution as workers and youth rise up. But the leadership of the KKE (Greek Communist Party) on the contrary believes that the present collapse of the capitalist economy is just a recurrent crisis.
This is an un-Marxist and anti-revolutionary conception which subordinates workers to capitalism!
In the 30 years of Thatcherism and Neo-liberalism charge, assisted by the Stalinist bureaucracies of the Soviet Union and China, the capitalists did not succeed to defeat neither the working class nor the anti-imperialist movements.
The working class remains undefeated and strong worldwide. Only the overthrow of capitalism can end the crisis and the wars! This means the building of a revolutionary socialist party and of a new revolutionary trade union leadership in Greece.
Today’s general strike must become the basis for the organisation of a United Front and the formation of Councils of Action. Today’s conditions demand an immediate extraordinary Congress of the GSEE and of the ADEDY for the election of a new leadership, for uncompromising struggle for the overthrow of capitalism and for the establishment of a socialist planned economy.
For a Workers & Farmers government!
19 October 2008