Greek Workers Battle Riot Police

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ATHENS public transport workers were yesterday continuing for the fourth day running their ‘rolling’ strikes.

The strikes were called against the government’s plans to transfer staff to other positions in the public sector and to put thousands on so-called ‘reserve labour schemes’ for a year, on a wage cut of some 40 per cent – after a year these workers will get the sack.

The government also intends to put thousands more workers of 151 state-owned high technology, research, arts, TV and radio organisations on ‘reserve labour schemes’ and immediately sack 30,000 public sector workers.

On Sunday riot police attacked protesting workers and youth in the Syntagma square in front of the Vouli (Greek parliament) building with batons and teargas.

University students protesting against the Education Law staged an occupation of the news programme studio at the state ERT TV station demanding ‘an end to the silence’ and to broadcast their message.

Despite the capitalist media’s hysterics against university students’ occupations, now school students are carrying out occupations, while 13 out of 15 Greek universities’ rectors refused to collaborate with the Education Ministry in implementing the Education Law.

Last Friday, the Ministerial Committee for Privatisations decided on the immediate sell off of seven highly profitable state firms.

These are Greek Petroleum, with its three large refineries, Greek Gas, LARKO, one of the largest mineral companies in Europe, Athens International Airport, the Athens Elliniko airport, State Lottery, Football Lottery, as well as radio frequencies.

Greek Petroleum workers have waged a struggle against wage cuts and privatisation this year but they have been let down by their leaders who are refusing to fight against the government plans.

The government have also put up for sale 35 large state-owned buildings, including the Foreign, Interior and Health Ministries, the Greek Statistics Authority, the Greek Police HQs, and 15 tax offices.

With the target set by the troika of IMF, EC and ECB, which now rule Greece, to raise 1.7 billion euros by the end of September now most unlikely, a new target of five billion euros by the end of this year has been set.

This comes in the wake of the so-called ‘orderly’ or ‘controlled’ Greek default discussed at last weekend’s IMF Annual Conference in New York. This plan sets a 50 per cent ‘haircut’, that is devaluation, of the Greek state bonds held by international banks.

Since such a ‘haircut’ will drive several mostly French and European banks to the wall, since they possess large packages of Greek state bonds, bankers are demanding that the EU’s European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) must be activated to compensate them.

A Greek default would trigger bankruptcies not just of banks but of whole states such as Portugal, Ireland Spain and Italy, as well as the UK.

The IMF and the US are demanding that the EFSF’s capital must be raised to almost two billion euros, a fivefold increase.