‘AN UPRISING OF THE WORKING CLASS IS COMING’ – say Greek transport workers

Greek transport workers demonstration led by a cavalcade of 200 motorcyclists in Athens
Greek transport workers demonstration led by a cavalcade of 200 motorcyclists in Athens

ABOUT 2,000 Greek public transport workers took part in a magnificent demonstration last Tuesday afternoon in Athens, against the government’s Transport Bill which slashes wages and pensions, imposes ‘flexible’ working conditions and will lead to the sacking of some 1,500 workers, opening the door to privatisation in the very near future.

Once again the 24-hour strike of transport workers was 100 per cent rock solid; not a single metro train, bus or tram left the depots.

The march through the Athens city centre started with impressive fireworks set off by the workers who lined up for the demo with their colourful banners. A striking impression was the very noisy parade of some 250 motorcycles at the front of the march, lights on and rhythmically blowing their horns, their riders blowing whistles.

The front banner simply stated in huge letters ‘we resist’ while others read ‘hands off public transport’.

The most popular slogans were ‘public transport belongs to the people – not to the private capital’, ‘no sacrifices for the bankers’, ‘enough of illusions – either with the government or with the workers’, ‘Reppa (Transport Minister) you will go like Ben Ali’, and ‘this transport fight is only the start – an uprising of the whole working class is coming’.

Several Athens neighbourhood associations against high fares joined the demonstration with their banners.

The march reached the Vouli (Greek parliament) where government deputies voted for the Bill.

Transport workers were to hold general meetings of their unions on Thursday to decide further action.

This proved to be a march that showed not just the determination of the transport workers but the revolutionary fighting spirit that is spreading through the whole of the working class in Greece. This means that next week’s one day general strike would be a gigantic event that would demand the overthrow of the Papandreou government.

What drives workers to shout ‘uprising is coming’ are the figures just published by the Greek Statistics Authority and by the Bank of Greece which show a colossal leap in unemployment, now at an official rate at 14 per cent and over 30 per cent in the 15-25 age group, high inflation, and the collapse of the GNP (Gross National Product) 6.6 per cent in the last quarter of 2010.

Transport workers have repeatedly experienced the betrayals of the GSEE (Greek TUC) which left them fighting alone, not calling out in strike action the powerful public sector unions, and their own transport trade union leaders who obey the GSEE bureaucracy’s sell-out orders.

Workers see the revolutions in the Arab countries, just across the water from Greece, as the road to follow.