THE RAGE of youth and workers in Greece over last Tuesday’s horrific rail crash is now threatening to overthrow the right-wing government of Prime Minister K Mitsotakis as railworkers’ trade unions have called a general strike for tomorrow, Wednesday 8th March.
Nearly all of Greece’s City Trades Councils have decided to hold a 24-hour strike with rallies and demonstrations in every city.
Students’ unions and the drama and arts students’ occupations are joining the strike rallies and marches.
Railway trade unions called on the GSEE (Greek TUC) to declare tomorrow a General Strike day and the Public Workers Federation (ADEDY) has also called a 24-hour strike.
On Sunday, some 50,000 workers, students and youth staged a huge militant midday rally in front of the Vouli (Greek parliament) in Athens demanding punishment for all those – government, politicians and Hellenic Train bosses – responsible for the deaths of at least 100 people in last Tuesday’s rail crash.
This was an anti-government rally and a most powerful expression of willingness and determination to fight to get rid of the hated Mitsotakis government.
Speakers from the railway trade unions called on workers and youth to turn ‘rage and sadness into struggle’.
Kostas Yenidounias, President of Train Drivers Trade Union PEPE at Hellenic Train, said: ‘Nobody paid any attention to our repeated written and official warnings, instead they mocked us and called us, a guild, lazy, and good for nothing.’
In the most recent of PEPE’s warnings, 31 October 2022, delivered by a Court order to Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis (who resigned last Wednesday) and to OSE (the state company for railway works and maintenance), after the accident, the train drivers’ union stated: ‘Despite our incessant remarks, our protests, and above all our constant calls to address the intensifying problems in the railway network, unfortunately our fears of injuries that we had expressed to you have been confirmed.’
The union’s statement continues: ‘We constantly observe the poor condition of the railway infrastructure, the lack of maintenance, the non-functioning of traffic lights and remote control systems for many years, the non-functioning of the ETCS (European Traffic Control System – whose commissioning protects against human error), that never functioned despite being installed on the engines.’
Yenidounias said that railworkers are to continue their national strike, demanding immediate implementation of safety systems, until tomorrow’s General Strike.
Workers are calling for a fight to overthrow the government and for the re-nationalisation of the Greek railways.
However, armed riot police squads attacked Sunday’s huge rally with lots of tear-gas and noise bombs after some youths threw stones and fruit at them. The riot police proceeded through a barrage of tear-gas grenades to split the people in the square, but the tens of thousands remained on the side streets and wide avenues.
Scores of the hated DIAS riot police on motorcycles were sent in to further terrorise people and widen the gap between those on each side of the square in front of the Vouli.
But people stood firm and shouted ‘murderers’ and ‘Mitsotakis (the Prime Minister) you scum!’
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