Greek Workers Occupy Square!

Part of the Vouli square with the DEH workers lorry-cranes at the back
Part of the Vouli square with the DEH workers lorry-cranes at the back

TENS of thousands of young people along with workers and their families staged an enormous rally last Wednesday evening in Athens, almost filling up the vast square in front of the Vouli (Greek parliament) building.

Thousands more youth demonstrated in the main squares of every large Greek city. They had gathered following calls through the Internet to stage a mass anti-government protest of the type seen in the Arab Revolution and recently at Spanish city squares.

A very large banner held just in front of the Vouli read, in Spanish: ‘We have awakened! What time is it? Time for them to get out!’

There were slogans chanted, the main one being: ‘Get the hell out of here’, addressed to the government.

The Greek Communist Party (KKE) and some other small parties of the ‘Left’ have condemned the youth demonstrations because they have not been organised by trade unions.

Spyros, unemployed in his early 20s, told News Line: ‘We have come here in the square independent of political parties and trade unions to hold a peaceful demonstration; we came to protest against the government; we loath the trade union leaders and politicians; we are not suckers to pay for this crisis.’

In front of the Vouli, a large riot-police force was continuously railed at and jeered by the tens of thousands of youth. Police stayed put realising that even tons of tear gas would have not been sufficient to clear this massive crowd.

Over 3,000 workers at the Public Electricity Board (DEH), the biggest employer in Greece, who came from all over the country to Athens, staged a powerful demonstration through the city centre against the government-announced privatisation. The demonstration ended up in the Vouli square joining the thousands of youth and workers there.

Two large crane-vehicles put up a huge 6-story high banner stating: ‘we do not sell and we are not for sale’, in front of the Ministry for the Economy building opposite the Vouli.

Workers blocked the entrance to the Ministry and were held back by trade union leaders from attacking the riot police and entering the building.

Takis, a coalface miner from Megalopoli in southern Greece, spoke to the News Line condemning the government plans. ‘I take home about 1,300 euros (about £1,100) a month; now they tell me that I and my mates have destroyed the economy of our country.

‘Do you know what it is like to work deep in the mine? I go to a funeral every week of comrades who die of various diseases. We have to get this government out.’

Last Thursday morning, hundreds of DEH workers again picketed the Ministry for the Economy building.

Workers at the Hellenic Postbank are continuing their occupation of the bank’s HQs in Athens for the third day.

In the Vouli square several thousand youth stayed overnight. A message on the Internet called for another mass rally in the square last night.