Greek Union Leaders Threatened With Jail

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ATHENS – For the fifth consecutive day last Thursday, the Athens city centre remained closed to traffic as riot police sealed it off to contain workers’ and school and university students’ marches and rallies.

Despite a court’s decision early this week declaring their strike illegal short-contract workers of the Athens city council continued their mobilisations. Last Thursday morning they marched through the city centre to the Vouli (Greek parliament) shouting ‘strike! strike!’ and anti-government slogans.

They are demanding permanent full-time jobs for all workers. The strike has been called by the POP-OTA (the local government trade unions federation).

But by afternoon, the court had issued yet another ruling once again declaring the strike illegal ‘for health reasons’. The judge ruled that if the strike continues there will be one-month prison sentences for both the president and the general secretary of the POP-OTA as well as for the leaders of all federations’ trade unions plus a 1,000 Euro fine for each day the union does not comply with the judge’s ruling.

At a general meeting late on Thursday of the Athens city short-contracts council workers it was decided to end the strike. The general secretary of POP-OTA Markos Dardamanis said that the situation at the meeting was ‘explosive’.

School and university students organised two other separate demonstrations also last Thursday.

Students supporting the Greek Communist Party marched through Athens in defence of state education. Later school and university students marched against police oppression and demanded the release of all youth arrested in the last few days by police.

The majority of departments at the Greek universities remain occupied in protest against the government’s policies and police violence and mass arrests. But the Greek Communist Party have refused to take part in this struggle.

Not only that but Communist Party students at the Athens Law School issued a statement describing so-called anti-state power and anarchist students as ‘fascists’ and accusing other left-wing students of carrying out ‘fascist actions’.

During last year’s December Uprising in Athens, the General Secretary of the Greek Communist Party had branded the protesting students as ‘agents of intelligence services’.

The bankruptcy of the Greek economy has put enormous pressure on the Greek government from the European Union who are worried about the effect on the Euro and from bankers worried about the value of Greek state bonds in their possession.

The militant and mass mobilisations of Greek workers and youth do not allow Prime Minister Papandreou to declare an ‘Ireland’ in Greece of cuts in wages and pensions.