Power Cuts Hit Greek Cities

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GREEK workers of the State Electricity Corporation staged a solid-rock 48-hour national strike on Tuesday and Wednesday and occupied several power plants as well as administrative offices against the government’s austerity measures which have cut their wages by seven per cent and their wage supplements by 30 per cent.

They are also fighting against privatisation but their union leaders have accepted the establishment of private power plants. Workers held mass rallies in the cities close to the power plants in northern Greece and on Wednesday early morning power plants’ workers occupied the main administration building of the State Electricity Board in Athens.

Health workers and national health service doctors also staged a 24-hour national strike last Tuesday.

The bureaucratic leaders of ADEDY (public sector trade union federation) have called for a rally and demonstration next Tuesday but they have not as yet set a date for a strike.

The GSEE (Greek TUC) leaders have also failed to act following yet another magnificent 24-hour general strike last Thursday.

On Tuesday night the OLME (Greek teachers’ trade union) and several other smaller trade unions staged a rally in Athens and a march through the city centre.

Over three thousand workers and students took part but they were no power nor health workers on the march thanks to the dividing tactics of their trade union leaders and of PAME, the Greek Communist Party’s trade union organisation, who were also absent from the mobilisation.

What is clear though through the last two massive general strikes in the last three weeks, is that workers want to see and participate in a determined all-out struggle against the government’s austerity measures.

Evening marches are important only if there is a constant struggle within the trade unions to force the GSEE-ADEDY to call an indefinite political general strike.

The 48-hour strike of the National Electricity workers saw seven major power stations close, with workers threatening to shut down more and plunge Greece in blackout.

The National Electricity Company (DEH) workers 48-hour strike called for a reversal of the austerity measures and of the freezing of 2,000 new positions in the industry.

The workers occupied the Unemployed Office Headquarters in Athens, the Company’s offices in Ptolemaida and Megalopolis (both major power producing units) and a production unit in Agios Dimitrios.

Since the beginning of the strike in the early hours of the morning today, seven major power-plants have shut their engines, with the Ministry of Interior claiming that if workers shut down one more unit, as they are threatening, the State will be forced to implement local black-outs so as to avoid a country-wide major black-out.

The workers are expected to meet with the Minister of Labour tomorrow for negotiations.

Meanwhile, nurses who have gone on a 24-hour strike against the austerity measures marched in Athens yesterday.

The Minister of Health has promised not to implement the cutting of subsidies and salaries in their sector, to initiate many new working positions and to include nursing within the list of ‘heavy and unhealthy’ jobs, which provides a better pension and salary.

At the same time, doctors across Greece’s public hospitals have begun an open-ended withdrawal of labour in reaction to the austerity measures.

At the same time workers of WIND formed a demo outside the Labour Inspection headquarters in Athens in protest to the firing of one worker by the company, while workers of the textile industry ELITE blockaded the entrance of the Ministry of Labour.

Meanwhile in the north of the country, textile workers of ENKLO industries occupied two major banks of the city of Komotini, as well as the County headquarters of Imathia.

ADEDY is organising a central protest march against the measures in Athens. Reactions to the measures are expected to climax as the Minister of Labour has gone public proclaiming the feared reform of the social security system.

Moreover, taxi drivers and gas stations have called a 24-hour strike for today.

It must be noted that all of those arrested during the protest march of the general strike, have all been released apart from a 28 year old swimming instructor.

The man whose photos have been released being brutally pulled by the hair by riot cops, has been charged with possession and use of molotov cocktails, as well as under the anti-hood law.

The decision of the court to put the man behind bars in Koridallos prison pending his trial has sparked reactions of outrage even amongst the bourgeois media.

The man’s bag who the cops claimed contained molotov cocktails only contained his working clothes and tools (shampoos and goggles), while in none of the pictures published does the man wear a mask or cloth covering his face.

The court has demonstrated utter prejudice by only accepting one defense witness and waving all the others, in a hurry to put the man in remand.

His lawyer, Ioanna Kourtovik made the following statement: ‘Far distanced from society and from legal proofs that apparently leave it cold and indifferent “existing Justice” has put a young man behind bars with the single testimony of a policeman, which is being contradicted most saliently by a series of photographs declared at the interrogation, and by dozens of witnesses present in his arrest, who spontaneously came and demanded to testify’.

The recent change in the law regarding remand has definitively made the conditions of it more strict, and demands such a decision to be based on ‘previous condemnations for similar acts’ or ‘special characteristics of the act’ from which derives a danger for committing more crimes. How can we console a young man who is going to prison, just because he has rasta hair and was carrying a sack with his work’s clothes in it?

Due to the continuing Electricity workers strike, the Ministry of Interior has implemented hourly rolling local black-outs in all major greek cities (meaning 10 sections of Athens for example will be blacked-out between 19:30 and 20:30, the next 10 sections between 20:30 and 21:30 and so on).

Meanwhile ambulance workers have blockaded the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace in Salonica.