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Repeated general strikes challenge the Greek cuts

by Julie Sherry

The Greek parliament passed a fresh austerity budget by the skin of its teeth last week—but already it faces renewed resistance as a fresh general strike was set for Wednesday.

This walkout comes a week after a 48-hour general strike. Workers surrounded parliament as MPs voted through the new attacks.

Greek union federations have yet to announce further plans, but for workers the main slogan has become “These cuts will not be implemented”.

Some sectors stayed out after last week’s strike—among them admin workers in the universities and local government workers. These are the sectors that have been instructed to provide lists of workers to be sacked in the new austerity package.

Workers responded by occupying the offices where these lists are held. Some local mayors have sided with the strikers, refusing to provide lists.

On Tuesday, as Socialist Worker went to press, a three-hour solidarity strike by civil service workers was taking place. Shipyard workers and Metro workers were also out.

Panos Garganas, editor of Workers’ Solidarity newspaper in Greece, spoke to Socialist Worker on the potential timeframe of further strikes. “I suspect the union federations will wait and see whether the government survives its current crisis,” he said.

“The drama has shifted in the last week from Athens to Brussels, so union leaders will want to wait and see what the troika [the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank] comes up with.”

Package

Despite the government passing the package of swingeing cuts, the promised bailout of £31.5 billion is still subject to a further “progress report”.

Panos explained, “The troika’s refusal to release the funds is having a huge impact. It has exposed the government’s argument that everything would be OK once they imposed cuts. The next euro group meeting is set for 20 November.”

Meanwhile, a poll this week revealed that the anti-austerity Syriza has become the most popular party.

Panos continued, “There is an internal crisis inside the government. Significant numbers in junior coalition partner Dimar and even the Labour-type Pasok are now positioning themselves as independents, preparing to align with Syriza.”

Last week’s general strike showed the potential that exists to defeat austerity. Workers’ Solidarity journalist Nikos Loudos reported, “Hundreds of thousands of people poured into Athens city centre to surround parliament as MPs voted.

“Every time the police tried to disperse the crowd a cheer went up as the left regrouped and headed back to parliament. If it wasn’t for heavy rain the police would have had to fight all night.

“The call for an indefinite general strike now has majority support in many major workplaces—despite the fact that no part of the union bureaucracy supports it.

“A previous 48-hour strike in October 2011 forced George Papandreou’s Pasok government to resign. A similar strike this February led to the fall of Lucas Papademos’ ‘technocrat’ government. The government is falling apart—and this is an opportunity to finish them off.”


Article information

International
Tue 13 Nov 2012, 17:18 GMT
Issue No. 2329
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