ATHENS – Tens of thousands of workers and students marched in all main cities of Greece last Thursday in a 24-hour general strike against the government’s abominable anti-labour and anti-trade union Bill.
It was the biggest strike mobilisation since 2019 when the current right-wing government of Prime Minister K. Mitsotakis was elected.
The general strike was called by the GSEE (Greek TUC) and the ADEDY (public workers trades unions federation).
The strike was paramount in press, TV and radio. No newspapers were printed and no TV or radio programmes broadcast. It was100% solid in city transport, the Athens Metro, building sites, shipyards and ship repairs. In the port of Piraeus not a single ferry sailed despite the fact that once again the Courts had declared the seafarers’ strike ‘illegal’.
GSEE have not released strike participation figures for other industries. Judging by the strength of the workers’ delegations that took part in the marches, workers’ participation was quite high in the food and drinks sector, paper mills, apparel factories and communications, but low participation of the public sector and banks.
In Athens, some 25,000 industrial, services and public sector workers along with university students demonstrated in the city centre in three separate marches. They shouted for the withdrawal of the government Bill and for more strike action. Anger and determination dominated the marches.
Chemical workers from a large fertiliser factory in northern Greece have set up their tents outside the Labour Ministry in central Athens in their fight against mass sackings.
They joined the march shouting ‘get rid of Mitsotakis’. But their leaders have refused to occupy the factory and call for support from other workers. They have been advised by the GSEE leaders to seek ‘dialogue’ with the Labour Ministry which has instigated the hated anti-labour and anti-union Bill!
At the separate Athens rallies, the GSEE leaders called for another 24-hour strike next week prior to the vote on the Bill scheduled for the 17 June.
Likewise, the leaders of the KKE’s (Greek Communist Party) trade union wing.
The PENEN (ferries deck hands) union has called for a 48-hour strike ‘along with occupations of public buildings’.
The government Bill imposes the naked dictatorship of the bosses and employers. There will be completely ‘flexible’ working hours and conditions. Workers will have to work even 14 hours a day but paid for only 8 hours. The pay for the extra 6 hours will be given to workers as ‘holiday hours’! Workers could be called at any time for shift work.
The state’s Inspection Authority is to be scrapped and mass sackings allowed. Trade Unions’ books (members, finances etc) would have to be deposited to the Labour Ministry and trade union voting must be carried out electronically (through cellular phones apps). Courts would have the power to declare a strike ‘illegal’ in case any man or woman complains of ‘intimidation’.
The Greek Labour Minister Kostas Khadzidakis has dismissed all protests against the Bill and in fact he has added more sections against strikes to the Bill.
The EU and IMF overlords of Greece have ordered an all-out attack on workers and students to force them to pay for the crisis. Unemployment is over 1.1 million, around 25%, and youth unemployment is more than 50%.
The average wage, on ‘flexible’ terms, is about 600 euros per month. Mass unemployment and starvation wages are firing up the anger of people in Greece who have now started a determined fight against the anti-labour and anti-trade union Bill.
They have also to fight and get rid of the treacherous trade union bureaucracy of the GSEE and ADEDY leaders who are undermining every single struggle and organise 24-hour strikes with the sole aim of pacifying workers’ rage and will to fight.
Likewise, the leaders of the KKE (Greek Communist Party) who are refusing to organise an indefinite general strike against the Bill as they think that ‘this is not a revolutionary time’ and workers are not ready for such a fight.
But now, strengthen by last Thursday’s mobilisations, workers and youth demand a head-on struggle with the right-wing counter-revolutionary government.
Palestinian children demonstrate in the city of Nablus to condemn the Israeli attacks