Socialist Worker

Spirit of resistance is spreading from Greece

Greek workers prepare for a general strike as mass protests and threats of strike action spread to other European countries.

Published Tue 23 Feb 2010
Issue No. 2190

Europe is in turmoil. Bosses are desperate to force workers to pay for the economic crisis.

But they are facing growing resistance.

The Greek general strike this week is the latest in a series of acts of defiance against the bosses, the government and the leaders of the European Union (EU).

Two weeks ago the entire public sector in Greece was out on a day-long strike.

Different groups of workers there have struck every day for the past week. Now private sector unions have joined the fight.

Meanwhile Spanish trade unions are threatening a general strike against economic reforms that would hit workers’ living standards.

Prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is proposing that workers retire later to save the country money.

Thousands took to the streets on Tuesday of this week to protest against the government.

Deficit

The Greek government, urged on by the international bankers and other EU leaders, wants to make vicious cuts to reduce its budget deficit.

It currently stands at 12.7 percent of Greece’s annual gross domestic product. The government wants to slash it to 2.8 percent.

It plans a wage freeze in the public sector, a 10 percent cut in allowances and wants to raise the retirement age.

This would mean a big deterioration in workers’ living standards.

European Union leaders and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are demanding that the government goes even further.

But the scale of resistance has rocked their plans.

“The Greek TUC is now discussing what the next moves will be after Wednesday”, said Panos Garganas, the editor of Socialist Worker’s sister paper in Greece.

“There is likely to be another day of action in mid-March.

“There is a political argument in the workers’ movement about how to respond now. A court ruled that a strike by customs workers was illegal and the union’s leadership called it off.

“The rank and file are very angry about this. The same thing happened with the strike of finance ministry workers.

“If the IMF and the EU decide to play even tougher and push the Greek government to one side to implement their own programme it will provoke an even bigger revolt.”

Socialist Worker journalist Matthew Cookson will be reporting on the Greek general strike from Athens this week. Check this website for updates.


Article information

International
Tue 23 Feb 2010, 19:25 GMT
Issue No. 2190
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