Greek 48-Hour General Strike

Rail workers marching during Tuesday’s general strike in Athens
Rail workers marching during Tuesday’s general strike in Athens

The GSEE (Greek TUC) and ADEDY (public sector unions) yesterday called a 48-hour strike for today and Saturday in protest at a savage government austerity programme drafted earlier in the day.

In a statement, the two union federations said they would also stage three days of protest rallies around the country to decry the draconian terms of the new loan memorandum.

The statement came just hours after Greece’s imposed prime minister Papademos, and the three political parties making up the governing coalition, held all-night talks with a visiting troika of European and International Monetary Fund officials over the new austerity measures.

The three parties yesterday finally agreed to all of the troika’s demands, which calls for steep cuts in pensions and private-sector wages, as well as mass sackings in the public sector.

The unions’ joint statement said: ‘The measures included in the new memorandum, and which were agreed to by the three political leaders and with the ruling troika, is the tombstone of Greek society.’

According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority, or Elstat, Greece’s unemployment rate soared in November to 20.9 per cent compared with an 18.2 per cent rate just a month earlier and up sharply from one year ago.

The total number of unemployed reached 1.029 million, up by 126,062 from October.

The Federation of Police Employees (POESY) yesterday held a protest march in Athens.

The police officers were protesting against further pay and pensions cuts, as well as demanding the right to strike.

Some of the key measures in the agreement reached include:

• a 22 per cent cut in the minimum wage, currently at 751 euros per month gross, with an additional ten per cent reduction to the basic salary for young people aged under 25;

• a reduction in the pensions of employees of state companies OTE telecoms and Public Power Corporation by 15 per cent, as well as of seamen by seven per cent;

• 15,000 state employees are to be placed in the labour reserve scheme by the end of 2012, with the target of reducing general government employment by 150,000 by the end of 2015;

• The sale by end-June of scheduled share packages in the following state-owned companies: Public Gas Corporation (DEPA); gas distributor DESFA; Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE); betting agency OPAP; the Attica and Thessaloniki water and sewerage companies (EYDAP and EYATH); and the International Broadcasting Centre.