ATHENS – Greek workers delivered a powerful first blow to the government’s counter-revolutionary Stability Plan last Wednesday with a magnificent national all public sector strike and mass demonstrations despite the rain.
Hundreds of thousands of workers participated in the one-day strike called by the ADEDY (federation of public sector trades unions) against the European Union sponsored plan to cut wages and pensions, enforce huge spending cuts in education, health and welfare, impose high income tax on workers as well as raising the tax on petrol which will drive daily goods prices up.
High participation figures were reported from civil service, education (most schools remained shut), health and local government. Very few flights operated at the Athens airport while not a single ship sailed from the port of Piraeus, sea-farers joining the strike. Museums and archaeological sites remained closed.
Thousands of local government workers gathered outside the Offices of their trade union federation and then marched to the ADEDY rally in central Athens.
On the way they were viciously attacked with tear gas by the hated MAT armed riot police on the pretext of a refuge lorry being part of the demonstration. One of those attacked was Yiorghos Manglis, the leader of the Aghios Dimitrios local council workers.
Manglis told the News Line that ‘we were determined to reach the ADEDY rally so we just pushed through despite the police violence along with the vehicle decorated with our strike posters.’
15,000 public sector workers, along with contingents of university and school students, joined the rally addressed by the ADEDY President Spyros Papaspyros, a supporter of the government party the “socialist” PASOK.
Papaspyros said that workers ‘will fight and will not pay for this crisis’ and announced that the ADEDY have decided to join the general strike for 24 February called by the GSEE (Greek TUC).
He accused the Greek government of the ‘socialist’ Prime Minister Yiorghos Papandreou of adopting a ‘neo-liberal’ Stability Plan which is rejected by workers. Papaspyros also accused the ‘main European countries’ for ‘exporting’ the current economic crisis which is devastating the bankrupt Greek capitalist economy.
Earlier the Greek Communist Party’s trade union organisation PAME held a 5,000 strong separate rally outside Vouli (the Greek parliament). Construction workers, sea-farers, engineers and apparel workers joined the PAME rally.
Following the ADEDY rally a mass demonstration through Athens city centre was held. Workers in angry mood shouted anti-government slogans and satirical verses against Papandreou and the European Union.
There were also slogans for occupations. Many workers carried their own make-swift banners calling for resistance against the government.
The ADEDY leaders stopped the march short of the European Union Offices despite protestations from demonstrators to carry on. Determined teachers led the march to the EU Offices with thousands shouting ‘Down with the junta of the banks’ and ‘Kick out the swindlers of Brussels.’
The Athens ADEDY rally and demonstration was covered by an unprecedented large number of American, European and Japanese TV crews, journalists and photographs thus indicating the international importance of the Greek workers’ mobilisation.
Public sector workers staged rallies and demonstrations in Salonica and in all Greek cities.
The Trotskyists of the Revolutionary Marxist League, Greek section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, intervened in the Athens rally and march calling for a political indefinite general strike, for the overthrow of the capitalist Papandreou government and for the establishment of a workers’ and small farmers’ socialist government.
While workers were demonstrating in Athens, the Greek Prime Minister Papandreou was meeting the French leader Sarkozy in Paris insisting that he won’t budge in implementing the EU dictated Stability Plan.
Throughout the day machinations between the EU’s leaders and bankers resulted in Jose Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister and current president of the EU, making a statement that the Eurozone countries will aid Greece to face the ‘unprecedented’ economic crisis.
The EU leaders’ intentions had pushed the Athens stock exchange up by some eight per cent up last Monday and Tuesday. But last week it had taken a deep dive losing over 14 per cent. The financial agency Moody’s is considering relegating the status of the Greek economy once again, making it more expensive for Greece to borrow money.