Xekinima (CWI in Greece), spoke to the Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party England & Wales, 13 July) about its effects and what the way out is for workers and the majority in society." />

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Greece’s debt crisis

No way out for workers under capitalism

www.socialistworld.net, 26/07/2011
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

As the sovereign debt crisis in Greece deepens, Andros Payiatsos, general secretary of Xekinima (CWI in Greece), spoke to the Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party England & Wales, 13 July) about its effects and what the way out is for workers and the majority in society.

Interview with Andros Payiatsos, Xekinima

Capitalist politicians and commentators say the economic crisis in Greece is because Greek people have ’lived beyond their means’. But who is really responsible for the crisis?

The Greek people, along with the people of Portugal, are the poorest in the eurozone and work some of the longest hours. This is entirely overlooked by the media.

Before the global crisis took hold after 2008 the minimum wage was just €670 a month. One-in-four workers reach retirement age earning this minimum. 65% of pensioners used to receive less than €600 a month - this is poverty wages and pensions. And Greek supermarket prices are the same as in London.

The average expenditure on salaries of public sector workers is 9% while the average for the 27 EU countries is 10%. Therefore Greek workers have not been ’living beyond their means’.

The crisis is the result of the functioning of the capitalist system and this affects not only Greece but is global. It started in the USA and developed across Europe hitting the banking system. It meant that governments in the EU had to intervene to save the banks from collapse. The Greek government has provided €108 billion in bailouts. This is around 45% of Greece’s GDP.

Fundamentally the Greek people are being told by the government the EU, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - the ’troika’ - to pay for the crisis created by the bankers and by the capitalists in order for them to continue to make profits.

Could you briefly remind readers what the Pasok government’s austerity measures will mean for workers’ living standards?

There have been so many attacks. Living standards of public sector workers will decline by 30%. All pensions, including pensions of just €500 a month, will be cut. The minimum wage will be cut to €520 a month.

This is a starvation wage. People simply cannot live on that amount of money. There has also been a massive increase in taxes. VAT has gone up to 23%, one of the highest rates in Europe; complete deregulation of labour markets. There are now daily contracts, monthly contracts... Permanent jobs are being undermined.

Unemployment is now officially at 17%, but in reality it is nearly 25%, and this doesn’t include temporary workers or the self-employed.

There is fast-track privatisation of virtually all publicly owned assets. They are even going to sell off the public beaches! Education and health services will also be subjected to privatisation.

It is not an exaggeration to say living standards have collapsed. It is like a bulldozer riding over the lives of millions of Greek workers.

What has been the response of working class people to these attacks?

We have witnessed some of the biggest struggles ever of the working class in the last months and years. There have been eleven general strikes since the beginning of last year. The last one lasted 48 hours, the first 48-hour strike in 20 years.

There have also been many strikes in the public and private sectors. The most important in recent months has been the bus workers strikes which lasted for about three months. And the occupation of Athens council by contract workers, which lasted for 26 days.

We have also seen ’movements from below’. Firstly the non-payment movement in the period between December 2010 and February 2011. This was a huge movement that refused to pay highway tolls, transport fares and the new ’entry fee’ to hospitals of five euros.

Secondly, this was followed by the movement of the ’enraged’, a mirroring of the developments in the Arab revolutions, which succeeded in toppling dictators.

The occupation of city squares was taken up by youth and workers in Spain in the middle of May. This was adopted by Greek people in late May who occupied Syntagma Square in Athens and squares throughout Greece.

At its peak some 500,000 people were involved, the biggest protest in three decades. It left the government hanging by a thread by the middle of June.

But in the end this movement was unsuccessful in stopping parliament voting for the new austerity measures demanded by the troika. This movement has now subsided as we enter the hot summer months. However, there still exists massive rage among the general population so new movements and struggles are inevitable later this year.

What political solutions to the crisis are being put forward by workers’ organisations, and what measures does Xekinima say are necessary to resolve the crisis in the interests of working and middle class people?

The Greek working class has the will and the power to get rid of this government and its hated policies. A major problem is the leadership of the trade unions. To answer the question what alternative do the union leaders propose? Well, they don’t propose anything!

This leaves the mass of Greek people vulnerable to the position of the government and media propaganda and causes confusion.

The trade union leaders go through the motions of calling for general strikes but don’t properly organise them nor try to develop them to kick out the government.

Nor do they properly organise to defend demonstrations against the actions of agent provocateurs who attack the riot police to provoke a response with tear gas, etc.

Another major problem is the absence of leadership of the left. The Communist Party (which describes itself as ’Stalinist’) correctly identifies the crisis as a function of the capitalist system but it does not link the day-to-day struggles of workers to the need to change society in a socialist direction. Also they are extremely sectarian, organising separate marches and rallies to other groups of workers.

The other left organisation Synaspismos - a reformist party - acts as an ’unpaid advisor’ to Pasok. It tries to find solutions within the capitalist system, and lags behind events and the mood of the people. For example Synaspismos says renegotiate the debt and regulate the banks, even though a majority of the population say don’t pay the debt and nationalise the banks!

Xekinima says ’those responsible for the crisis should pay for it, not the working classes’. We explain that by repudiating the bankers’ debt, Greek people will save €160 billion.

We demand nationalisation of the banking sector. Renationalise all the privatised public utilities. Nationalise the commanding heights of the economy under democratic workers’ control and management.

Plan the economy in the interests of the working class and the majority of Greek people, not the profits of a tiny minority.

Bring down the Pasok government by developing struggles from below linked to a renewed mass strike movement. Fight for socialism because capitalism cannot serve the interests of the majority.

These struggles should adopt an internationalist perspective because the capitalist crisis is affecting workers throughout Europe and the world, there cannot be a solution to the crisis within a nation state.

We must link together the struggles developing in Spain, Portugal and Ireland, etc and then develop these on an all-Europe level, fighting for a socialist Europe in the interest of the working class.



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NEWS

Hong Kong: "Movement cannot be limited to ‘universal suffrage’ but must strive for socialism"
23/10/2014, Interview by Offensiv (socialist weekly newspaper in Sweden) with Dikang from Socialist Action (CWI Hong Kong):
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Ireland: TD Paul Murphy tears up Irish Water pack in the Dail
22/10/2014, Socialistworld.net:
1 million refuse to register for water charges

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Britain: 100,000 attend TUC’s pay rise demo
21/10/2014, Socialist Party Reporters, London:
Calls for local government strike action to be reinstated

Scotland: 10,000 attend Hope Over Fear rally
16/10/2014, Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI), Glasgow:
’Political awakening’ continues after independence referendum

Ireland :’The people have risen, they should not kneel down again’
15/10/2014, :
Paul Murphy TD (MP) makes maiden speech in Parliament

Scotland: SNP budget sees another £500 million cuts
10/10/2014, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
For a ’no-cuts budget’ and mass campaign to win back billions stolen by ConDem government!

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Africa: Ebola crisis spreads
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Britain: Labour to continue austerity offensive
26/09/2014, Matt Gordon, from the Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party - CWI England & Wales):
Labour conference a carefully stage-managed affair

Ireland South: Is Sinn Féin a genuine left alternative?
25/09/2014, Conor Payne, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Cork:
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Britain: Capitalist parties in crisis after Scotland revolt
24/09/2014, Editorial from the Socialist (issue 826), weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Build a working class alternative

Iran: Petrochemical workers sentenced to jail and flogging
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Northern Ireland: Ian Paisley - peace-maker or war-monger?
18/09/2014, Michael Cleary, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast:
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Scotland: Independence referendum
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"Britain will never be the same again"

Spain: Millions take to streets calling for Catalonia’s independence
18/09/2014, Rob MacDonald, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) Barcelona:
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Scotland: Thousands mobilise to oppose Project Terror in Scotland
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Video: John McInally on Scottish Independence
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Belgium: First school student protest against cuts in education
15/09/2014, Jeroen Demuynck, PSL-LSP (CWI in Belgium):
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Scotland: Defeat Project Terror with socialist policies
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Big business, politicians and media attack independence

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South Africa: Community protest over corruption widens
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Authorities deploy heavily armed response

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Spain: Death knells of "Transition" regime
23/10/2014, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Catalonia; ’Podemos’, and the left

Kazakhstan: Brutal repression in imperialism’s interests
20/10/2014, Mike Whale, Secretary of Campaign Kazakhstan (first published in October 2014 issue of Socialism Today):
Workers pay the price for crony capitalism

Is the US promoting a “colour revolution” in Hong Kong?
18/10/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong):
Beijing’s scare propaganda doesn’t stand up to examination

Britain: Workers need a pay rise - how can we pay for it?
17/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
End poverty, inequality and capitalism

Ireland: Byelection triumph marks turning point in anti-austerity struggle
14/10/2014, Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Paul Murphy wins parliamentary seat as 100,000 march against water charges

Middle East: US-led policy of air attacks on Islamic State lies in ruins
13/10/2014, Tony Saunois, CWI:
As battle for Kobane rages, IS forces make major gains in Iraq

Ireland: Paul Murphy elected to Irish parliament in stunning byelection victory
12/10/2014, socialistworld.net:
Anti-Austerity Alliance victory shocks political establishment, reflects mass revolt against water charges and austerity

South Africa: "A workers’ party must emerge"
11/10/2014, John Malanga, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI South Africa):
Dire position of South African capitalism and inequality adds momentum towards creation of workers’ party

Israel/Palestine: After the Gaza war
07/10/2014, Shahar Benhorin, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI Israel-Palestine):
No justice for Palestinians and no peace for the region - For a socialist solution!

Hong Kong: Pro-regime thugs attack protesters
06/10/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI Hong Kong):
Organise democratic defence committees to repel attacks and kick out CY Leung’s government!

Kurdistan: The battle for Kobanê
02/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Regional war poses new challenges for struggle for Kurdish self-determination

Iraq /Syria: US-led bombings will worsen divisions
01/10/2014, Judy Beishon, from the Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
Stop imperialist slaughter!

Hong Kong: Massive anti-government protests after attempted police crackdown
30/09/2014, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Anger over police violence fuels spontaneous “umbrella revolution” and growing strike movement

Scotland: Independence referendum - A working-class revolt
24/09/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
The referendum has turned British politics upside down – even though the No vote won

Greece: "This destruction of workers’ lives serves the bankers"
23/09/2014, Speech by Apostolis Kasimeriss, an Athens bus driver, to Italian socialists:
“We must all keep going…we have no other way to survive than to fight-back”

Belgium: Right wing coalition aims for structural attack on workers
19/09/2014, Eric Byl, LSP/PSL (Belgian section of the CWI), Brussels:
Massive social resistance is looming

Sweden: Conservative collapse, extreme-right gains
17/09/2014, Per Olsson, from Offensiv (newspaper of the Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna - CWI Sweden):
CWI success, defended four council seats

US: Inequality and fight-back in the world’s richest country
16/09/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Socialist Alternative articulates political strategy to break from Democratic Party and capitalism

Brazil: Will elections mark the end of the PT government?
15/09/2014, Andre Ferrari, LSR (CWI in Brazil):
Space for Left alternative to win support

Ukraine: Fragile ceasefire holds but country remains “a tinder box”
10/09/2014, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
Only united working class action can secure lasting peace

Scotland: 10 days that can shake British capitalism to its foundations
08/09/2014, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI in Scotland):
“In the past four weeks support for the union has drained away at an astonishing rate. The Yes campaign has not just invaded No territory; it has launched a blitzkrieg.”

Britain: Crisis brewing on all fronts
05/09/2014, Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
The 2015 general election is a mere eight months away yet impossible to call. But what is clear is that none of the capitalist parties hold any real attraction for working class voters.

Beijing slams door shut on Hong Kong democracy
02/09/2014, Statement by Socialist Action (CWI Hong Kong):
Mass resistance against one-party dictatorship is the only way forward!

Iraq: Only united action can stop sectarian war
16/08/2014, Robert Bechert, CWI:
Iraqis and Kurds must not trust imperialist ‘helpers’

Socialism and national rights
15/08/2014, From Socialism Today No.181, September 2014 by Peter Taaffe, General Secretary of Socialist Party (England and Wales), CWI Secretariat:
Ukraine, Israel/Palestine and other countries