‘We are the opposition!’ – Greek teachers storm parliament

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Riot police attack students on the stairs to the Vouli (Greek parliament) building in Athens last Thursday. Photo credit: MARIOS LOLOS
Riot police attack students on the stairs to the Vouli (Greek parliament) building in Athens last Thursday. Photo credit: MARIOS LOLOS

GREEK striking teachers along with students staged yet another magnificent march of over 6,000 last Thursday against the hated government Education Bill. Once again it was a jubilant demonstration through the Athens city centre to the Vouli (Greek parliament) with teachers constantly chanting anti-government rhymed slogans to the accompaniment of drums, tambourines, whistles and clapping.

The most popular slogans were, ‘We teachers are the real and only opposition!’ and ‘Indefinite struggle to victory!’ It was the biggest march of the teachers and students determined to fight for the withdrawal of the Bill which will lead to thousands of short-contract teacher sackings and to several mergers and obliteration of university departments and colleges.

At the stairs leading to the main Vouli building, demonstrators were viciously attacked with spray teargas guns and truncheons by the armed riot police squads. Late on Thursday night, the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras passed the Bill in the Vouli but by just 149 votes, that is less than the 151 parliamentary majority.

The previous Wednesday night Tsipras had won a parliamentary confidence vote by 151 to 148. The SYRIZA ruling party received the votes of its own 145 deputies plus six votes of independent right-wing deputies. The Tsipras government is now a minority government dependent on reactionary right-wing deputies. In its first test, the vote on the Education Bill, Tsipras failed to mobilise the 151 majority.

On the day of the vote, the EU Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici landed in Athens to order Tsipras and his ministers to intensify their attacks on workers and youth. Moscovici insisted that there must be no concessions and the bankrupt Greek banks must be saved by more government cash and by the grabbing of people’s homes and shops who cannot meet the banks’ demands on their mortgages.

Tsipras is also facing a vote on the Greek-Republic of Macedonia accord. The orders of the USA and EU are for the acceptance of the accord while Russia has rejected the deal blaming the USA-EU for interference in the Macedonian’s state affairs. Tsipras is facing the end of the road. The teachers’ insurrectionary strike and marches show that Greek workers and youth won’t stand for any austerity coalition government.

The issue is posed for the overthrow of Tsipras and the smashing of the austerity accords. This means a workers’ struggle for state power.