Parallels between ancient Greece and current Greece are not lacking in recent times, and the “Greek tragedy” has been served up in all journalistic sauces. In the country that invented democracy to put an end to debt slavery, the European bourgeoisie imposes its reactionary approach: even if the institution of slavery is not (yet) re-established, the poverty into which the Greek people have been plunged at a growing speed greatly resembles a modern slavery.
Every day, 2400 new workers are thrown into unemployment, which has officially reached 17.7% (12.4% a year ago), with 21.5 % of women affected and 35.3% of youth. Fifty percent of the unemployed have been out of work for more than one year.
Paul Tomsen—the best known personality of the troika (IMF, EU and ECB), today de facto in charge of the country’s affairs—says on the one hand that the imposition over the last six months of the fiscal burden on a part of the population which can no longer pay is an error, and on the other demands two measures: the suspension of collective agreements (to impose flexibility and the alignment of wages with productivity) and the closure of a certain number of public enterprises (which in his view have ceased to fulfill the function for which they were created). Obviously, no question of asking the people for a democratic opinion on the utility of these enterprises!
The mobilizations by sector or enterprise are numerous and sometimes allow partial victories over the employer or the state. Numerous strikes have taken place in transport, a strike has broken out against the neoliberal university reform, and the taxis are on strike against the “opening” (to the big companies) of the profession and so on.
One of the most significant struggles currently concerns the audiovisual and press sector (newspapers, television, radio, magazines, and internet). Massive layoffs, brutal pay cuts have affected every company in the sector. Tens of thousands of workers are no longer paid or not paid on time, with most companies paying wages months late.
The television channel “Alter” has not paid its 700 employees for a year, and the big Athens newspaper Eleyfhterotypia stopped paying its 840 employees this summer.
However, there is resistance to this daily violence in the workplaces. After months of working for free, the workers at “Alter” decided to occupy the head office of the television and turn it into a center of solidarity (collecting food to organize their own survival) and beginning to broadcast programs (rudimentary for the moment), which have become a center of popularization of the struggle of several sectors and factories. Similar projects are now being discussed by the workers at Eleftherotypia.
The most emblematic struggle currently is at the steel factory of Halivourgia in Aspropyrgos, in the Athenian suburbs, against lay-offs and wage cuts. This struggle is led by workers linked to the pro-KKE union current PAME and is characterized not only by its combativity, but also by the very broad support it has received, including union and political support. For example, the intervention of our comrade Yannis Felekis, historic leader of the Greek section of the Fourth International, OKDE-Spartakos, was warmly received by the strikers!
> This is adapted from an article by Tassos Anastassiadis and Adreas Sartzekis on the Fourth International website: www.internationalviewpoint.org.