Greece: ‘Reasons for workers’ rebellion!’

Public and sector workers hold 5 March strike following 4.8bn euros more cuts

The measures that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced today [March 3] represent a "cause for rebellion" on the part of workers to oppose the policies of the Pasok government and bankers – Greek and international – which are now in the process of making the greatest attacks against working class people in Greece in the post-war period, against our standard of living and our rights.

The government has announced plans to, in effect, cut 2-3 months wages from public sector workers; to increase VAT from 19% to 21%; to impose indirect taxes on items of mass consumption, such as cigarettes, alcohol and fuel and to cut 12% of state sector workers’ benefits [‘benefits’ in their vast majority provided as a compensation for low wages].

Generalstrike, 24 February 2009

These measures amount to 4.8bn euros worth of cuts. The government says these cuts are necessary and cannot be made any other way yet … This figure amounts to less than the court fine imposed on a Greek stock exchange company, ‘Acropolis’, of 5.5bn euros, due to this company’s robbery of pension funds in 2007. It is also less than the 8bn euros worth of annual evasion by big business by not paying towards pension insurance for their workers.

Not accidentally, the first public person to welcome these savage cuts was the former hated right wing prime minister, Mitsotakis (1990-1993), followed by the president of the Greek industrialists’ organization, and by the leader of a far-right party!

Generalstrike, 17 December 2009

All the measures announced by Prime Minister Papandreou will be neither temporary nor the end of the story. More is to come. Government spokespeople and the media claim these measures will take the economy “out of recession completely”. These are lies! These policies will only further deepen the recession in Greece. The economy is estimated to fall by -5% of GDP in the course of this year (2010), as a result of these policies.

The big capitalists and the so called "socialist" government have shown its real intentions. It is time now for the working class and youth to fight back! We need an immediate call for a 48 hour general strike! Up to this stage, the public sector union federation, ADEDY, has called a general strike of the public sector workers for 16 March. This is not enough! We must develop a long strike wave, including mass demonstrations and workplace and government building occupations, and also workers’ occupation of the TV and radio stations which are spreading only government propaganda.

We must prepare for a 48-hour general strike. Youth, small farmers, shop keepers and other small business people, must also be involved in mass actions. It is important that students in schools and universities hold occupations and that small farmers blockade national roads. A plan of general strikes – not just one more – is needed to force the Pasok government and reactionary bureaucrats in Brussels to back down.

At the same time, there needs to be all-Europe mobilisation and co-ordination of mass workers’ action, of strikes against EU policies, linked to the struggle of Greek workers. The struggles of Greek workers in Athens, Salonika and other cities, will to a large extent determine the ferocity of attacks on the rest of the working class throughout Europe. If the Greek bosses can get away with it, the bosses throughout the EU will act likewise.

Left parties and trade unions in Greece, and at an all-European level, must take urgent initiatives to mobilise mass workers’ action to resist these attacks. Either the Greek government and big capital will be defeated in the streets of Greece by workers’ action or the working class will face unparalleled attacks. We should not pay for the crisis they caused nor should we pay for the deficits and debts they created!

We demand:

  • Nationalise the banks and stock exchange companies, under workers’ and social control and management
  • Drastic tax hikes on profits, on big land ownerships and on the huge Orthodox Church estates
  • Drastic cuts in arms expenditure
  • Stop national debt repayments to Greek and overseas big banks

We call for an end to international market’ speculation and the scandal of the robber-banks – Greek and international – that are making huge profits out of tax payers (The state bailed out the Greek banks with 28bn euros, at zero interest rates, just to have the banks ‘lend’ those funds back to the government at 6-7% interest rates!).

This year, and for the next few years, 50bn euros will be repaid to the robber-banks-speculators, per annum, while the government spends just over 10bn euros each year on education and health combined!

Are we to bleed for their profits? No! They should bleed this time!

[Issued by Xekinima (CWI Greece) 3 March 2010]

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