Greek workers and youth on the way to an unprising!

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Greek museum workers’ and secondary school teachers’ banners on the coordinated trade union march last Thursday
Greek museum workers’ and secondary school teachers’ banners on the coordinated trade union march last Thursday

ATHENS – Greek workers and youth are on the road to an uprising!

Mass rallies and demonstrations are taking place throughout Greece as part of the Friday and Saturday two-day general strike called by the GSEE (Greek TUC) and ADEDY (public sector trades unions federation) against the barbaric austerity measures of mass sackings and huge wage and pensions cuts dictated by the EC and IMF and fully accepted by the Greek government of banker Lucas Papademos.

Wage cuts of 22 per cent are to be imposed but are to be 30 per cent for young workers under 24.

Pensions are to be cut by 15 per cent and more by next June, and collective labour agreements scrapped and abolished.

GSEE said that a young person who starts work will be employed in flexible working conditions with about 450 Euros per month!

Tens of thousands of civil servants and public sector workers are to be sacked in the next few weeks.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to participate in this Sunday’s rally outside the Vouli (Greek parliament), as well as in all the main Greek cities, demanding the overthrow of the Papademos government.

It is the first time in Greece that two general strikes are organised in a single week. It shows the colossal pressure put on the bureaucratic leaders of the GSEE to carry out a fight against the Papademos government.

Last Thursday power workers of the Greek Electricity Board occupied two power stations and staged a one-day national strike against the privatisation of the Board.

Last Thursday thousands of health workers demonstrated at the Ministry for Health building and were invited to participate in the occupation carried out by the Ministry’s workers.

On Thursday night about 15,000 workers and students took part in two militant demonstrations in the Athens city centre organised by the Co-ordination of Trades Unions and by the Greek Communist Party. Demonstrators faced scores of riot police squads placed throughout the Athens city centre.

At the Co-ordination of Trades Unions march the dominant slogans were for ‘uprisings everywhere – to throw out the government and the EC and IMF’ and ‘forward people on to the front line – to get rid of the government and the EC and IMF’.

The Communist Party also called for the overthrow of Papademos but through elections.

At a trade unionists meeting following last Thursday’s marches, civil servants and public sector workers reported that occupations of ministries and state buildings are being organised along with occupations of town halls.

Trade unionists also called for the need of local Popular Assemblies to organise the resistance to the government along with workers’ strike action.

Troskyists of the Revolutionary Marxist League put forward a programme for workers’ mobilisations and occupations on the demands of transforming the general strike into an indefinite political general strike for the overthrow of the Papademos government and for the establishment of a workers and small farmers’ government based on the Popular Assemblies.

The next few days will be critical in Greece as the working class, students and the self-employed are now on the road to an uprising against the government.

They place no faith in the bureaucrats of the GSEE and they have entered this historic fight based not just on anger and indignation but a huge determination to defend their rights, and to win the struggle, using whatever means are necessary to do so.

They are now on the road to a total showdown with the government of the EC and IMF and the violence of the capitalist state.

• The Greek Assistant Labour Minister Koutsoukos, a parliamentary deputy of the PASOK social-democratic party, resigned on Thursday night. In a resignation letter Koutsoukos, an ex-bank worker and leading trade unionist, said that the new savage austerity measures imposed by the EC and IMF on the Greek government ‘are not simply hard, but very painful for workers’.

The Papademos government intends to ask the Vouli (Greek parliament) to vote on the new EC-IMF Agreement tomorrow (Sunday).

• Greek workers and youth taking part in a 48-hour strike against savage austerity measures yesterday battled with riot police, as eurozone foreign ministers delayed a 130bn euros bail-out and demanded 325 million euros extra spending cuts.

European stock markets fell and the euro dropped against the dollar in reaction to a new threat of Greek bankruptcy.

Final approval of a second Greek bail-out now won’t come until next week after eurozone finance ministers demanded the country’s parliament first approve another round of deep cutbacks.

‘We do not have all the necessary elements on the table to take decisions,’ Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs meetings of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, said late on Thursday in Brussels.

‘In short, no disbursement without implementation,’ he added.

The Eurogroup is set to meet again on February 15th. Without the 130bn euros bail-out, Greece appears certain to default on a 14.5bn euros bond repayment due on March 20th.

Eurozone finance ministers also demanded that the leaders of the three parties in the country’s interim government sign a pledge to implement the measures, and detail more than 325m euros in additional spending cuts before next Wednesday’s meeting.

The deadline was set after talks in Brussels between Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and his 16 eurozone counterparts, who were unmoved by Thursday’s deal by Greek politicians on austerity measures.

The ministers insisted that the Greek parliament must vote through new austerity policies and a package of economic overhauls this weekend before the eurozone can back the 130bn euros bail-out.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso expressed confidence the bail-out package would be finalised next week but said Athens needed to implement structural reforms to restore confidence in its economy.

Derek Halpenny, an analyst at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in London, said: ‘The rejection…to sign off the bail-out deal leaves us in limbo over the weekend which may encourage a further reduction of risk today during the European trading session.’

‘Given on-going concerns over Greece, traders are reluctant to commit funds until a deal is firmly approved by European finance ministers,’ said ETX Capital trader Manoj Ladwa.