Greece: Powerful general strike opposes cuts to pensions

All out in the struggle! Coordinate and develop the fight now!

Last Thursday, 4 February, saw another powerful one-day general strike in Greece, in opposition to austerity being carried out by the Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) government.

The strike was called by the private sector (GSEE) and public sector (Adedy) trade union federations against pension cuts. This latest attack against the working class is being imposed by Syriza at the behest of the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Below we publish a translation of the editorial from this week’s Xekinima, newspaper of the CWI in Greece, which looks at the scale of the general strike and the next steps needed by the workers’ movement to defeat the latest round of cuts.

Socialistworld.net

For the first time since its election in January 2015, the Syriza government, led by Alexi Tsipras, sees the range of the movements across Greek society turning against it. The general strike on February 4th was successful, even if not on the scale of the great general strikes from 2010-12. It reflected the anger of layers of society – workers, farmers, unemployed, youth etc. – that are being attacked by Syriza’s new ‘Memorandums’ [austerity measures agreed with the Troika – IMF, ECB and EU].

The most important characteristic of the general strike was the mass demonstrations that took place in regional towns. Compared to the total population, these regional demonstrations were much bigger than the ones in the major cities of Athens and Thessaloniki. In some cases, they were the biggest demonstrations for decades!

The 4 February strike must not be the end of strike action – as usually happens after a successful strike, when the union leaderships abandon the struggle – but the beginning of mass mobilization

If we want to avoid a new defeat, all layers of society that are mobilizing at the moment must coordinate and strengthen their struggle, based on a plan that includes:

  • The urgent call for a new 24 our general strike in the course of next week
  • The call for a 48 our general strike within the next 20 days
  • These strikes must combine with the continuation of the farmers’ blockades and occupations of workplaces in the public and private sector – starting from where workers are being sacked, are unpaid for months, or their rights are being attacked

Such a movement will inevitably arouse the youth, who have been absent from the movements of the last few years, and can lead to occupations of schools and universities

These strikes and occupations must be well organized, there needs to be discussions in the work places, the workers need to see that there is a plan, determination and a perspective for victory. It is necessary that they elect rank and file action committees that will fight for the success of the mobilizations.

Who will take the initiative?

The question is who is going to take the initiative to call for this kind of plan and coordination.

The mood amongst the workers, farmers and the poor layers of the society is more than ready for this plan of coordination. But the leaderships have no intention to put it forward. Under different conditions, this call to mobilize the whole of society would be a responsibility of the leadership of GSEE (Greek TUC). But there is not a chance that these corrupt union leaders will do anything to plan, coordinate and develop the struggle to overthrow the policies that the [Troika] creditors demand and the Greek governments of [former social democratic] PASOK, [right wing] New Democracy and now Syriza implement.

The role of the Left parties

The responsibility of uniting and coordinating these movements falls on the shoulders of the Left, or at least those sections of the left that want to consistently stand against these policies and the system.

The sum of the forces of the KKE [Communist Party], LAE [Popular Unity] and Antarsya [Anti-capitalist Left] are around 10%, a base big enough to play a key role in the developments and to take these movements forward. But the state of the Left today is a picture of disappointing divisions. The main responsible for this is with the KKE, which denies any cooperation with any other force, on any level.

This attitude represents a full abandonment of the ‘Marxism – Leninism’ that the Communist Party leadership claims to represent. The traditions and history of the revolutionary movement, of genuine Marxism, is characterized by cooperation and common struggle in the mass movement, where every party or organisation of the Left and the workers’ movement maintains full independence and its differences on the ideological, political and organizational level.

LAE and Antarsya: some positive steps

The picture is better if we look at LAE [Popular Unity] and Antarsya. In the course of the past few weeks, a number of positive steps have been taken for common action over the government’s Social Insurance Bill, between LAE, Antarsya and other organisations of the Left, such as Xekinima (CWI) and others.

This collaboration must spread and expand, not just over the new attack against pensions but also on every central issue facing the workers’ movement. All organizations that participate must be allowed to maintain full ideological, political and organizational independence. If this step is indeed taken, it will mean the opening of new, very positive perspectives for the mass movement. It will provide political aims and perspective to the struggles that are developing today and will develop tomorrow, as well.