TENS of thousands of workers and youth participated in the mass rallies and marches throughout Greece last Friday and Saturday as part of the two-day general strike called by the GSEE (Greek TUC) and the ADEDY (public sectors unions).
In Athens over 40,000 workers on Friday and some 20,000 on Saturday held demonstrations in the city centre and congregated in Syntagma square in front of the Vouli (Greek parliament) building shouting, ‘Now it’s the time for the overthrow of the coalition government of Papademos.’
The two-day strike proved total in urban and national transport; no ships sailed from the Greek ports and not a single train left the depots.
There were no buses, trams or Metro trains. Very high participation to the strike was recorded in mines, building sites, engineering, banks, electricity production and supply, hospitals, civil service and the garment industries.
Many schools were shut but in general the participation of teachers to the strike was as low as 30 per cent, but colleges and universities were shut with some departments under students’ occupation. In contrast to previous strikes, this time the leaders of the journalists’ trade union decided not to take part.
But actors, theatre and cinema workers participated fully in the strike with the National Theatre and State Municipal Theatres dark.
Last Friday at Syntagma Square there were very large contingents of industrial and public sector workers but the GSEE and ADEDY treacherous leaders had failed to mobilise large sections of the powerful mines and power workers trade union and others.
The bureaucrats kept workers on the low side of the Syntagma square not in the upper where the Vouli building is so as not to be ‘contaminated’ by the other workers and youth who were in the forefront of the demands for the overthrow of the government and shouted slogans against the police.
At 1pm, the GSEE-ADEDY withdrew workers from the square and at 1.30pm youth started throwing stones, fruit and several petrol bombs against the riot police.
They retaliated by throwing into the crowd smoke and noise bombs and tear gas canisters.
Three minutes later they attacked, hitting anyone in sight with their clubs and making arrests.
But workers and students remained on the square, formed contingents and moved away on to the Athens University main building half a mile away.
The riot police followed them throwing tear gas at them but not charging against them
The Finance Ministry, opposite the Vouli, and the Labour Ministry were occupied last Friday.
The Ministry for Health is also under occupation. Several state buildings and city halls around Greece are also occupied.
The State Housing Board buildings were occupied on Saturday by the workers who face the sack immediately.
Mass marches were held in every Greek city and town.
On Friday, the Greek Statistics Authority announced a drop of 9.5 per cent of industrial production in 2011 compared to 2010 where the drop was 5.1 per cent.
On the day, the Athens Stock Exchange dived by 3.2 per cent.
On Saturday, workers and youth once again congregated outside the Vouli where they stayed till about 4pm. The riot police violently pushed them to the side to open the road.
For Sunday evening, tens of thousands of workers, youth and self-employed were expected to fill Syntagma Square as the Vouli votes on the so-called Second Memorandum, the EC-IMF-ECB-concocted bailout for Greece.
Under the colossal pressure of workers and youth, the Greek subservient government of banker Lukas Papademos, installed by the EC and IMF, is disintegrating.
Up to Saturday night, six ministers and assistant ministers had resigned while the racist nationalist party LAOS withdrew its support to the government.
A desperate Papademos made two nationally televised proclamations on Friday and Saturday to terrorise people into support for the EC-IMF diktats through extortion that if the bailout programme is not verified by the Vouli, scheduled for Sunday night, then ‘there will be no wages and pensions, no goods in the shops and no drugs for patients.’
His words were repeated by the leaders of the PASOK social-democratic party and of the Conservatives as they instructed their deputies to vote for the bailout otherwise they will be thrown out of the electoral lists for the next election.
But like rats, parliamentary deputies are leaving the sinking ship in scores.
Up to 30 from both parties have stated that they will vote against the bailout including several PASOK ex-ministers.
Workers are not in the slightest impressed by these heroics. They are demanding a ‘continuous strike’ until the Papademos non-elected government is overthrown.