‘Peoples Of Europe Rise Up!’

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Local government workers on the May Day march in Athens organised by the Coalition of the Radical Left
Local government workers on the May Day march in Athens organised by the Coalition of the Radical Left

GREEK workers in the public and private sectors are preparing for today’s 24-hour general strike which is certain to be one of the biggest mobilisations ever.

Tens of thousands of workers are already on strike.

Last Monday government workers began a three-day national strike against the IMF-imposed austerity measures, and staged a militant rally and large demonstration which crossed the whole of the Athens city centre.

Teachers began a 48-hour strike yesterday.

On Monday evening hundreds of ‘short-contract’ teachers besieged the studios of the state TV network in a north Athens suburb in protest against a Minister for Education interview broadcast which vilified teachers.

Once inside the Greek TV building they were viciously attacked by squadrons of the riot police. Teachers barricaded themselves inside the studios demanding to broadcast their own message.

The director of the Greek state TV, who had called the police, agreed after three hours of negotiations, and a teacher representative presented the teachers’ demands and attacked the government’s decision to sack by the end of June all 17,000 ‘short contract’ teachers.

‘These so-called modernisers,’ he said of the government, ‘want to take education back to the beginning of the 20th century, to scrap free and state education.’ Mass rallies and demonstrations of teachers were held on Tuesday throughout Greece.

Even Greek army and navy petty officers staged their own mass rally and demonstration last Monday in protest against the government’s cuts in their wages and benefits. In an unprecedented protest last month Greek air force pilots refused to fly missions.

Yesterday morning, the start of the 48-hour strike throughout the public sector called by the ADEDY (public section trade unions federation), Greek Communist Party (KKE) trade unionists organised a protest in the Acropolis. About 200 workers entered the archaeological site on the hill overlooking central Athens and hung two huge banners which read ‘Peoples of Europe rise up!’.

All sections of the Greek working class, from the powerful electricity and mines trades unions, to seafarers, engineering and telecommunications and railway workers, to archaeologists and actors and journalists, are to strike today. Shops and small-businesses are to stay closed following a decision from the Shop Owners Association and the Small Business Association.

The political crisis of the Greek government and of the bourgeoisie was clearly expressed on Monday when the Prime Minister Yiorghos Papandreou’s call for a meeting of all political parties’ leaders under the head of state, the President of Greece, was rejected.