TENS of thousands of workers and youth congregated early yesterday morning in Athens at three pre-arranged points to enforce an encirclement of the Vouli (Greek parliament) on Day Two of the 48-hour general strike.
They had refused to be frightened off by the massive tear gas, truncheon and sound bomb attacks by the riot police on Tuesday.
However the riot police attacked workers once again with scores of teargas grenades at two points, attempting to isolate them and open the streets up for the parliamentary deputies to go to the Vouli for the crucial vote on the Mid-Term Economic Programme Bill in the afternoon.
Tens of thousands congregated in the Vouli square, where they were subjected to constant police attacks.
Protected by police bombs and truncheons the Pasok (Socialist) government of Papandreou put through its programme for selling off Greece to the highest bidder by 155-138 votes.
In the UK yesterday, ahead of today’s first multi-union 750,000 strong public sector strike in defence of pensions, the unions came under attack from Cameron, Clegg, the coalition leaders and Miliband the Labour leader.
An angry Sally Hunt the UCU leader is set to demand an apology from Coalition leader Clegg at today’s mass rally.
She will say: ‘To hear Nick Clegg talk of public sector fat cats and gold-plated pensions makes my blood boil. He must apologise for that remark.
‘The average pension of a female college lecturer is just £6,000 a year.
‘This is a government that has already presided over an increase in the income of the richest 1,000 people by 18%.
‘How dare they call us gold-plated? How dare they preach to us about fairness?’
At Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament yesterday Tory leader Cameron called the strike ‘irresponsible’ and claimed the government’s plans were ‘fair’.
Labour leader Miliband, imitating Pasok and Papandreou, has instructed Labour MPs to cross picket lines and told the unions to ‘call off your strikes’.
A PCS spokesman told News Line: ‘If Labour MPs cross our picket lines that’s their choice. I’m not interested in what Miliband says.
‘Obviously the Labour Party should be on the side of working people, but we’re not relying on support from the Labour Party.’
Picket lines are being mounted outside thousands of schools and other workplaces, while marches and rallies take place in towns and cities all over Britain.
Three quarters of a million teachers, lecturers and civil servants are striking against the Tory-LibDem government’s onslaught on their pensions today.
The NUT says 85% of schools in England and Wales will be partially or completely closed, as will more than 350 colleges and 75 universities.
Courts and probation services, customs and passports services, Jobcentres, tax and benefit offices and driving test centres will all be closed down.
In Central London PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka, the UCU’s Sally Hunt, the NUT’s Christine Blower and the ATL’s Mary Bousted will head a huge march past Parliament.
NUT leader Christine Blower said: ‘Teachers have been left with no option but to demonstrate the strength of feeling they have about the unnecessary proposals which will see teachers paying more, working longer and getting less for their pensions.’
On Tuesday, in Athens, the Greek riot police unleashed its full force of tear-gas chemicals and naked truncheon power violence against the tens of thousands of striking workers and youth who had congregated outside the Vouli.
This was on Day One of the 48-hour general strike called by the GSEE (Greek TUC) against the government’s Mid-Term Economic Programme Bill.
The government of Yiorghos Papandreou has a majority of just five in the Vouli and a small group of government deputies have publicly voiced their disagreements with the Bill.
But despite the political cowardness and treachery of both the GSEE leaders and of the Greek Communist Party (KKE), who both withdrew the tens of thousands of the organised workers from the square almost as soon as they arrived, the 20,000 workers and youth who stayed in the square fought the riot police and refused to go away despite being the target for hundreds of tear-gas and noise-lightning bombs thrown by the riot police.
After three and half hours of police attacks, at about 5.30pm workers regained the square in front of the Vouli as dozens of motorcyclists joined them having travelled over 350 miles from the city of Thessaloniki.
A victorious concert was held on Tuesday night with several top Greek singers and musicians.
Hundreds of intellectuals, artists and university lectures have signed petitions in support of the struggle to get rid of the IMF-EC imposed Mid-Term Economic Programme Bill.
Scores of demonstrators were injured and needed hospital treatment. Greek police announced that over 40 arrests had been made.
Early on Tuesday morning workers picketed factories and in the port of Piraeus seafarers occupied the entrances to the ferries. Not a single ship sailed and the seafarers’ union has extended the strike to Thursday.
Despite government threats the electricity and power workers union are continuing their indefinite strike although the trade union leaders are holding back from shutting down power plants.
All shops, banks and businesses in the Athens city centre were shut on Tuesday. The GSEE stated that Day One of the two-day general strike was the most successful in the refineries, ship building, transport, ports and heavy industries. The strike achieved about 80 per cent participation in banks, building sites, and the public sector.
The passage of the IMF-European Central Bank measures through parliament is not the end of the matter, it is just the beginning of the struggle. There is much more to come.