Greece austerity, fascist violence bring fightback

Greece’s Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is making positive predictions: Unemployment has gone from 27.8 percent to 27.1 percent, though for youth under 25 it remained at 59 percent in the last quarter. He claims that in six years the economy should be back to where it was in 2008.

However, the trade unions involved in the struggle against the cruel austerity imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund say that it is more likely that it will be 20 years until there is a full recovery.

Auditors from the Troika — the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund — are currently in Athens to approve the details of the Greek government’s plan to cut the wages of 25,000 public workers by 25 percent for eight months and to fire 4,000 of them. Both these moves are unconstitutional, but to the Greek government, the demands of international finance capital take precedence over their Constitution.

In the week before the Troika’s auditors came, teachers throughout Greece held a rolling, week-long strike, beginning on Sept. 15. They threatened to continue these strikes. Some teachers report salary reductions by 50 percent since 2008, when the current recession started in Greece.

Greek unions have carried out 30 general strikes in the past four years, but still haven’t been able to budge the government’s and the Troika’s austerity measures. They realize that they have to do more, which is why the teachers stayed out for a week. Other trade unions went out on a two-day general strike on Sept. 18 and 19.

Along with the financial attacks on the workers, the Golden Dawn, the Greek fascist party, has been actively violent. On Sept. 12, in a working- class district in Piraeus — Athens’ port — members of the youth wing of the Greek Communist Party, who are also local trade union officials, were putting up posters for a festival.

Golden Dawn goons on motorcycles, scooters and cars came out of side streets and attacked the communist youth with metal bars and nail-studded clubs. Nine people were hospitalized with serious injuries, including Sotiris Poulikogiannis, president of the Metalworkers’ Trade Union of Piraeus.

According to a Sept. 16 story at the English-language version of the Greek Communist Party website, “On Friday 13th of September, masses of working people, unemployed, youth, people from the poor popular strata joined together with the KKE (Greek Communist Party) and KNE (Greek CP’s Youth Group)” to condemn this attack. (inter.kke.gr)

Pavlos Fyssas, a well-known Greek anti-fascist hip-hop artist, was stabbed to death by a Golden Dawn member on Sept. 17 as he was leaving a bar. As Fyssas was dying in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, he identified his killer.

In the protests after Fyssas’s funeral on Sept. 19, thousands marched on the local Golden Dawn office in Nikaia, a northern suburb of Piraeus. It was organized by the Greek Communist Party, and “anti-fascist activists, members of leftist parties, anarchists, trade unionists, students and pensioners marched together,” reported the Greek Left Review on Sept. 21. The main demand was “Kick the neo-Nazis out of here.”

The French newspaper Le Monde reported on Sept. 23 that two commanders in the national Greek police were removed for ties with the Golden Dawn, in connection with the investigation of Fyssas’s murder; some other cops have been suspended.