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Greeks plan mass protests as new austerity plan is imposed

by Panos Garganas in Athens

The International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank want to change the Greek constitution.

This so-called “troika” of institutions wants to enshrine repayment of debt as the Greek government’s absolute priority.

A new bailout package for Greece was passed this week. It involves a 130 billion euro loan that will go directly to the banks.

The government can’t use the money for anything other than servicing its debt.

And if the bailout money runs out, the troika wants to make sure that Greek budgets will prioritise debt repayment over pensions or wages.

The European Commission is sending a task force to Greece to establish “an enhanced and permanent presence on the ground”. This is to make sure the money is extracted.

Vote

MPs voted through cuts, demanded by the troika’s deal, on 12 February. They were set to vote on further pension cuts on Wednesday of this week. A mass demonstration has been called to coincide with this.

Hospital workers in Athens, from doctors to cleaners, were set to hold a 48-hour strike on Wednesday and Thursday. Health workers face some of the deepest pay cuts.

Greek unions have said Wednesday of next week will be the day for mass action against the deal. And workers will protests against austerity around Europe.

And a whole range of struggles continue in the run-up.

The most prominent is an occupation at the Workers Housing Organisation in Athens, which is responsible for building social housing and subsidising rents and mortgages.

The whole department has been abolished and all its subsidies will go. Some 85,000 families will see their housing costs rocket, just as their wages are being slashed.

The workers occupying Eleftherotypia newspaper were very encouraged last week by the public response to the first edition they produced under workers’ control (see below). They plan to produce another on Saturday.

Their mass meeting on Monday of this week decided that the second edition should reflect workers’ struggle more.

We have also seen spontaneous walkouts by school students against education cuts in Athens and Heraklion, the capital of Crete. Around 5,000 marched into the centre of Athens on Thursday of last week.

Exactly what action people will take in Greece is open. But it will certainly escalate.

Panos Garganas is editor of Workers Solidarity, Socialist Worker’s sister paper in Greece


Solidarity protest in London

Up to 300 people protested outside the Greek embassy in west London last Saturday as part of an international day of solidarity with Greek people fighting austerity.

The protest turned into a spontaneous march that blocked the road.

Despina Karayianni

The next solidarity protest is on 25 February at 1pm at the Greek embassy, 1A Holland Park, London W11 3TP


Article information

International
Tue 21 Feb 2012, 18:24 GMT
Issue No. 2291
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