Radicalised school students, workers protests against cuts, anti-fascist successes…
2005 was the most successful year in relation to recruitment in the recent history of the Greek CWI. It has even been better than 2003, the year of the anti-war demos and the protests around the Greek presidency of the EU. We have been able to attract radicalized youth and through our consistent campaigns, we’ve been able to win, not only youth of the ages 16 to 20, which was the norm until a couple of years ago but, increasingly, people in their mid and late 20’s.
The attacks by the New Democracy government meant Greek workers received the biggest blows to their living standards and rights in the last 15 years. The attacks have been very concentrated. In the space of a few months, during the summer, big sections of the public employees and bank workers were attacked, pensions were attacked, privatisations pushed forward with great speed, and overtime payment abolished. Wages grew by less than inflation, resulting in a net loss to working class incomes.
However, rallies called by the unions last autumn had a better attendance than the previous ones. The general strike on December 14 2005 was generally successful. There is a growing, deeper understanding, of some sections/ layers of the working class, particularly amongst the youth, that “the system does not work” and that “we have to do something about it”. We have managed to grow fast after building links with these layers.
The organisation based its activities on numerous small campaigns, mostly of a local character. We have organised many different campaigns amongst school students, in the universities, in relation to strikes, about the conditions of work of young workers (‘Mac jobs’ etc,), or in relation to the situation faced by immigrants. There is always a lot of activity. Some of the central campaigns are mentioned below.
We are the only organisation to start a campaign around the question of ‘Mac-jobs’.
We continue our work amongst health workers, with the production of a bulletin. It is quite successful and we sell around hundreds of copies per issue.
In three hospital union elections which took place over the course of the last 12 months we overtook the CP union faction receiving between 15% and 25% of the vote.
We recently expanded the work into the private sector by building a local union in a small private hospital. About 80% of the workers joined the union and a young comrade was elected president.
We have produced al lot of material on working class issues over the last year. This has assisted our intervention in the various strikes and in other mobilisations but it has also trained our young and new organisation on these issues. This material will be collated and printed in the form of a pamphlet to assist the comrades.
This year’s Greek CWI summer camp was the most successful ever. We broke all the targets we set, first and foremost the target for new members.
Work amongst immigrants has been very successful. Youth against Racism in Europe (YRE) is established as, perhaps, the best known anti-racist organization in Greece.
The campaign to give compensation to the victims of the racist killer P. Kazakos, now serving a life sentence in prison, has been very successful. The Greek government was forced to make an exception to Greek law and pay a monthly benefit to one of the victims, Tomy Kofi. Also, a publisher’s house published the story of T. Kofi and our comrade Timothy Abdul and donated all the revenue to the victims.
We campaigned against a proposed European neo-Nazi camp in Greece. We took part in numerous meetings around the country trying to mobilise local people against the possibility of the camp being held in their area, whenever there were such rumours. Local people, lefts, unions, youth etc, were very receptive to the idea of stopping the neo-fascist camp. The end result was a huge victory, as the neo-fascists were not only forced to cancel their camp but were also unable to hold a demo in Athens.
During 2005 we have seen the expansion of the CWI into new towns. Crete, Kozani and Kavala, in North Greece, Lamia in central Greece, Sparta in the Peloponnesus, and a re-invigorated branch in Patras, the fourth most important city in Greece, were some of our successes.
The CWI is also growing in Cyprus, and the youth ran a very good and widely publicised campaign against making students wearing school uniforms.
This year’s polytechnic rallies (November 17), which commemorate the massacre of students by the former military regime in the early l970s, and the beginning of the end of the dictatorship, were the most successful ever. In Athens, our CWI demonstration contingent started with over 100 comrades present in the pouring rain – which in Greece would normally mean cancellation of everything. The rally was small, since only activists took part.
In Salonica we had over 70 comrades under our banner. In Volos, in a rally of a few hundred, we led the banners of the university students and of the school students.
2005 ended with a very successful national congress, in December. Over 100 delegates and visitors attended the two day event in Athens. Comrades travelled from all over Greece and there were representatives from the CWI in Cyprus. The congress was very youthful and confidence sky high. Excellent discussions, on the political situation in Greece and internationally, and on party building, means we are well placed to make further gains in 2006.