More austerity, more struggle in Greece

From the night of Nov. 10 to early the next morning, protesters filled Athen’s Syntagma Square in front of the Greek parliament. Syriza, the left party with the largest number of seats and votes in parliament, had filed a censure motion against the government and called its supporters to come out in support.

The protesters hit the government because it had seized by force the premises of ERT, the Greek public radio and television service a week earlier. The workers had rightfully taken hold of their workplace last June after the government fired them.

The government majority held; only one of its members split to vote for the censure motion. Had it won, the government would have fallen.

The government is under enormous pressure over its harsh and vindictive austerity, and seizing ERT gives it an even stronger propaganda monopoly with which to influence public opinion in Greece.

On Nov. 6, the “Troika” (International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and the European Commission) came to examine Greece’s accounts and approve its plans for future cuts. The three Greek trade union confederations called a general strike that day. GSEE, the confederation of private sector employees, and ADEDY, the public sector confederation, both have ties to some of the parties in the current government. But if they don’t go along with a strike called by PAME, the labor confederation connected to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), they risk losing influence.

This was the fifth general strike this year and the 39th since austerity was imposed following the collapse of the Greek economy in 2010. Greek workers see a general strike as an affirmation of their resistance to the austerity that the Troika imposed on them for the $323 billion bailouts the Greek government received to pay off the big European banks.

Due to torrential rains in Athens on Nov. 6, GSEE and ADEDY called off their march. PAME broke out umbrellas and raincoats, marching behind a banner that read “Hold your head high, strength comes from the organization, hope from the struggle.” While PAME is willing to march and strike with the other two confederations, it is still very critical of their attitudes and alliances. (KKE website, Nov. 7)

The three confederations did bring out 10,000 people in Salonika, Greece’s second largest city, and in hundreds of other cities throughout Greece.

The KKE summed up Nov. 6: “The strike mobilizations organized by PAME in Athens and dozens of cities all over the country were particularly successful and had a mass character. Workers, pensioners, young people, students, school-students, women and unemployed condemned the new anti-worker and anti-people measures which have been passed and state their determination to fight against those that will be introduced in the future.”

The current austerity policies have been a disaster for Greece’s economy. It is in the sixth year of a deep recession; official unemployment is around 28 percent and over 50 percent for youths between 16 and 25. Economic output has declined every year for the past five years.

Greeks are nearly 40 percent poorer than five years ago, with disposable incomes down by a third since the country fell into recession. (Hellenic Statistical Authority)

The Greek government and ruling class collaborate with the Troika to impose austerity on the Greek workers, who are defiantly showing they won’t accept this pain without a fight.