TENS of thousands of Greek workers, students and youth took part in strike rallies last Friday throughout Greece against the ‘socialist’ government’s austerity measures.
In Athens over 30,000 participated in two separate rallies outside the Vouli (Greek parliament) one organised by PAME, the Greek Communist Party’s trade union sections, the other by several trade unions who had called a 24-hour strike for Friday.
The strike was 100 per cent solid in railways, buses, metro, airports, local government, and electricity; very high percentages were recorded in schools, health and the civil service. Journalists and radio technicians staged a 4-hour stoppage.
The GSEE (Greek TUC) and the SEDY (public workers federation) have agreed on another 24-hour general strike for this Thursday 11 March.
When the president of the GSEE (the Greek TUC) Yiannis Panagopoulos attempted to speak at the rally outside the Greek parliament last Friday, he was immediately booed by thousands of workers and students furious at the GSEE’s refusal to fight.
Panagopoulos was physically assaulted by demonstrators and he was carried away, his clothes torn apart.
In a statement issued later, without a shred of evidence, the GSEE accused supporters of a left-wing group as being responsible for the attack.
Then parliamentary deputies of the Coalition of the Left party opened up a large protest banner by one of the Greek parliament’s entrances.
Police tried to take down the banner but they failed. Then riot police attacked with tear gas and pushed down the 88-year old Greek Resistance hero Manolis Glezos who was taken to hospital.
The attack infuriated demonstrators who shouted slogans against the government and police; students and youth started throwing fruit and stones against riot police who reacted with more tear gas and smoke and noise bombs.
Fierce fighting broke out as scores of riot police attacked the rally to split it up and disperse it.
Trade unionists called over the PA system for assistance from the Athens working class but the large contingents of electricity workers and bus drivers had remained away from the rally for reasons unknown.
Earlier about 10,000 workers had marched away under the leadership of PAME.
Hours later the KKE issued a statement condemning the police attacks on Glezos and the demonstrators.
Despite the police attack, demonstrators held their ground, fought back and pushed the police by the Vouli building.
It was then decided by the rally organisers to march to the Ministry for Employment, the other side of the Athens city centre.
Throughout the course of the march to the Ministry police kept harassing and attacking demonstrators from side streets.
But a riot police squad was trapped within a building side and furiously attacked by youth; the riot police retreated but one of them was grabbed by the youth and beaten up mercilessly.
When the march reached the Ministry building, the riot police launched a tear gas attack; the demonstrators then marched back to the Vouli building and then to the State Accounts Office still being occupied for the second day by Olympic Airways workers demanding jobs or pensions.
Inside the Vouli, the government’s Austerity Measures Bill was debated; but the fighting outside proved too much for the leader of the government’s parliamentary deputies who actually launched an unprecedented attack on the Finance and Deputy Finance Ministers. The Bill was passed by the votes of the government deputies and of the racist party LAOS.
Then it was made known that the workers of the Ministry for the Interior had carried out an occupation of the State Printing Plant; this meant that the Austerity Measures Bill could not become law since it has to be published in the Government’s Gazette.
The government spokesman said that the Austerity Measure Bill would become law even if it is not published; lawyers said that would be an illegal act by the government.
Clashes between demonstrators and riot police broke out in the northern city of Salonica. Several government buildings were occupied in a number of Greek cities.
This Monday (8 March) trade unions and the PAME have called rallies in Athens and other cities.
Statement of the Revolutionary Marxist League, Greek Section of the International Committee of the Fourth International:
For a Political Indefinite General Strike against the European Union-Greek
Government Stability Plan!
Down with the Papandreou government!
For a United Front of all workers!
1. The dictators of the European Commission demanded new austerity measures on the working class and the subservient Papandreou government obliged by imposing them: 7 per cent wage cut for workers in state enterprises and local government, 30 per cent cut in the allowances for Easter, summer and Christmas, 10 per cent cut in supplementary wages, 2 per cent VAT increase, higher taxes on petrol, drinks, tobacco and electricity.
Further austerity measures are being planned for May and autumn of this year with ‘pension reforms’ and mass sackings in the public sector.
Papandreou is preparing for the arrival of the International Monetary Fund to be used as an excuse for the next round of austerity measures.
He stated that ‘Greece is in a state of war’. Yes! A class war of the bankers of the European Commission and of the government against workers!
2. The resistance of workers to the austerity measures of the government – a ‘national’ government, as it is fully supported by the Greek conservatives and by the racist party LAOS – must be mass war with non-stop mobilisations, strikes and occupations everywhere!
The fury of the working class forced the bureaucracy of the GSEE (Greek TUC) and ADEDY (public sector trade unions federation) to call a general strike which was a resounding success.
But the government went on to impose more austerity measures to terrorise and neutralise workers.
It is clear that one strike is not enough!
The GSEE and ADEDY must be forced to declare now an indefinite political general strike against the government’s austerity measures.
Papandreou’s ‘socialist’ PASOK party won the general election last autumn promising wage and pension rises and an increase in public spending for health and education, not to impose the demands of the bankers!
The Papandreou government have no mandate!
Workers should overthrow this government now!
3. At the biggest political and economic crisis, the call of the leaders of the Stalinist KKE (Greek Communist Party) and of the SYRIZA (Coalition of the Left party) is ‘everyone on the streets’, a call which makes workers’ mobilisations just protests, as it is not combined with any demands for a general indefinite strike and for the overthrow of the government and of capitalism.
The General Secretary of the KKE in her TV interview last night (Friday 5 March), revealed the counter-revolutionary nature of the leadership of the Stalinist party by saying that ‘there will be a recovery from this crisis’ and emphasised that ‘we are not saying that there should be an overnight onslaught, these things cannot be done’!
The last ‘recovery’ from a world economic crisis led to fascism, concentration camps, the slaughterhouse of the Second World War and the atomic bomb!
4. In contrast the Trotskyists of the Revolutionary Marxist League emphasise that the only solution out of the world crisis is the revolutionary overthrow of the rotten capitalism of poverty, unemployment and wars.
This requires a new revolutionary leadership to be built in the labour and trade union movement which will fight uncompromisingly for the overthrow of the junta of the bankers and Papandreou, and for the establishment of a workers’ and small farmers’ socialist government based on Councils of Action.
Such a government will nationalise the banks and large firms under a programme of a planned economy.
• Down with the junta of the bankers/
• For a workers’ and small
Athens, 3 March 2010.