Workers Battle Syriza Austerity Measures

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Hospital workers on the march against Syriza
Hospital workers on the march against Syriza

AT 4.30 am on Thursday the Greek Vouli (parliament) approved by 230 to 63 votes, with seven deputies abstaining or absent, a government austerity Bill dictated by the European Commission.

The Bill would now allow the banks with express procedures to confiscate, through the courts, homes and businesses that have fallen in areas of their loans. The second part of the Bill ‘secures’ private persons bank deposits up to 100,000 euros. But the government backed down from introducing a Bill for the heavy taxation of farmers and for pensions cuts and reforms.

Outside the Vouli over 10,000 workers and youth demonstrated against the Bill. Rallies were also held in the cities of Thessaloniki and Patras called by the ADEDY (confederation of public sector trades unions). Both the SYRIZA’s trade union sector META and the SYRIZA YOUTH participated in the marches and rallies. The ADEDY Executive Committee refused to call strike action.

In a leaflet distributed to the rally the Revolutionary Marxist League called for the organisation of an indefinite general political strike to smash the austerity accords and Tsipras’ clique of a EC puppet government. Fifteen of the Finance Ministry’s sacked cleaners have signed a statement against the SYRIZA government’s austerity Bills. ‘We did not fight 18 months in the streets to get to a new austerity,’ they point out.

In an Athens court eight persons, including trade unionists, are being tried on charges of throwing petrol bombs to the riot police last Wednesday. All eight denied the charges based solely on police testimonies.

The Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said that the government intend to recapitalise once more the utterly bankrupt banks by 25bn euros from a new bail-out austerity agreement of some 80bn euros to be agreed with the EC-IMF-ECB troika next month. The rest of the billions would go back to the lenders for past loans. This was a Bill that the previous conservative-social democratic coalition government failed to pass last year. It has been condemned by all Greek lawyers associations.

The National Bar Association conducted a poll last year and the Bill was rejected by 93 per cent of its members. Now the so-called ‘left’ government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras passes extreme Bills which have been written word by word by the European Union. The 1,000 pages-long Bill was given to parliamentary deputies to study just 24 hours before a Vouli debate.

The President of the Vouli Zoe Konstantopoulou, who has clashed with Tsipras, revealed that the EC demanded that there will be not a single amendment, however minor, to the Bill. She wrote to the Head of the Greek Republic and to Prime Minister Tsipras complaining that the Vouli is becoming a EC diktats’ rubber stamp.

Konstantopoulou, along with 30 other SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left – the main partner in the current government two party coalition) deputies voted against the Bill. Five more SYRIZA deputies abstained. The Greek Communist Party (KKE) and the neo-nazi Golden Dawn party voted against the Bill. The Bill was supported by the conservative party, the social-democrats and the media Potami party.

Speaking in the Vouli for the Bill, Prime Minister Tsipras once again repeated the claim that his government had accepted the new austerity accord in order to keep Greece within the Eurozone. Tsipras stated, in his beloved logic of turning ‘meat into fish’ as pointed out by Resistance hero Manolis Glezos, that, ‘we chose a compromise that forces us to implement a programme we don’t believe in and we will implement it, because the choices we have are tough’.

SYRIZA’s Left Platform voted against the Bill, but they are insisting of supporting the government. They believe that through pressure Tsipras would be forced to abandon his austerity agreement with the EC. The Left Platform has called for immediate withdrawal from the Eurozone and the nationalisation of the banks along with issuing of a national currency.