FROM NICK AXARLIS IN ATHENS
SCORES of Greek armed riot police attacked thousands of workers and students with tear-gas and noise-smoke grenades last Thursday night outside the Vouli (Greek parliament) building in Athens.
Riot police and special motorcycle units then charged with their truncheons in the streets of the city centre hitting and arresting demonstrators who were protesting against a government Bill that allows the police to ban and disperse any public meeting, march or demonstration by simply claiming a threat to public order.
Over 5,000 university students and workers had marched, constantly chanting slogans such as ‘Mitsotakis (right-wing Prime Minister) listen carefully – we will burn this Bill’, and ‘No Bill can stop us, we are the generation of the overthrow!’
Outside the Vouli, the Greek Communist Party’s trade union sector PAME held its own rally of some 5,000 workers under the slogan ‘this Bill will remain on paper’.
A third march organised by the Athens Trades Council attracted just a few hundred as the trade union bureaucrats have refused to fight the Bill.
The GSEE (Greek TUC) have welcomed the Bill while the ADEDY (public workers’ trades unions confederations) refused any strike action and organised a mediocre march of a few hundred last Wednesday. Such is the degeneration of the trades union leaders in Greece.
The Greek Communist Party opposed vocally the Bill but they too refused to call and organise strike action.
Inside the Vouli, the government’s deputies along with two other small parties (the remnants of the social-democratic PASOK and the right-wing nationalists) voted through the Bill by a majority of 86.
Since last Tuesday, students and young workers took part in large numbers in the two Athens demonstrations against the Bill as well as in several other Greek cities.
Both students and young workers have to struggle daily to survive while the quality of university education has taken a deep dive. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the collapse of tourism and the Greek economy as whole, young people cannot even find a part-time job in the catering, service and tourist sectors.
Meanwhile, the government of Prime Minister K. Mitsotakis is enforcing the system of firms and state services ‘hiring’ workers by the hour on starvation wage levels.
The world economic crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic are creating conditions for uprising in Greece too.
Mitsotakis would need an arsenal of dictatorial laws and a huge riot police force to put down the protests which would erupt in the next immediate period.
The Bill effectively banning demonstrations and public meetings would certainly need the full force of the Greek armed riot police to be enforced. But this won’t be enough. Young people in Greece are desperate, angry and determined to fight the riot police which have been viciously attacking them over the years. For the Bill to ‘remain on paper’, as the Greek Communist Party says, much more than militant protest marches is needed.
The young people demonstrating in Athens have grown up on the barbaric and hateful Austerity Accords imposed by the EU and the IMF and have seen families, lives and futures destroyed by mass unemployment and poverty.
They are realising that to annul the government’s reactionary Bills they must fight for the overthrow of the Mitsotakis government itself.
Their energy and anger is creating conditions for the formation of a revolutionary party to fight for the overthrow of capitalism.