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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 August 2005

Greek workers resist neo-liberal attacks

SINCE THE election of the conservative New Democracy government in Greece two years ago, severe attacks have been launched against working-class people.

Eleni, Xekinima (CWI Greece)

But workers have shown their willingness to fight these attacks, with four general strikes over the last six months, the last on 24 July.

Working hours have been annualised in many workplaces. This means that the eight-hour working day has practically been abolished, with many workers having to work up to 12 hours with no overtime payments.

Pensions have also been attacked, yet many pensioners already live in poverty. There are plans to raise the retirement age to at least 65, which is a disgrace, given that the life expectancy of workers in some heavy industries is only 62.

Public-sector workers have been particularly badly hit. The government got the union leaders to agree to 6,000 workers taking early retirement from Greek Telecom, which is still in the public sector. Workers on permanent lifetime contracts will be replaced with casual part-time workers.

The union leaders linked both to Pasok, the social democratic party, and to New Democracy, signed the agreement to set this dangerous precedent for the rest of the public sector.

Thatcherism

This brand of fast-track Thatcherism is the biggest attack on the working class since the end of the military dictatorship 30 years ago. The Greek economy is saddled with debt, not helped by the staging of the last Olympic Games in Athens, so the bosses are trying to make the working class pay.

Greek workers are angry and are searching for a political alternative. Pasok provides no alternative and the other Left parties have shown themselves to be incapable of organising a united fight back.

The Communist Party has even organised its own rallies during strikes, like during the three-week long bank workers' strike (much of the banking system is still part of the public sector). The priority must be to build a united campaign against the attacks.

45% of workers are living on less than 500 per month (345). Most new jobs are low-paid and part time. Unemployment is rising and companies are moving to places like the Balkan states in a search for even cheaper labour. In contrast, even the 'poorest' Greek MP gets a basic wage of 5,000 a month.

Xekinima has been arguing for a programme of properly-organised strikes, to be escalated if there are no concessions. But we also argue that workers must be involved in the organisation of these strikes, with strike committees to ensure the action is properly prepared for. Workers need to know a serious struggle is being organised.

There is a new generation of workers and young people looking for radical socialist ideas. Xekinima is the fastest-growing Left organisation in Greece. We are preparing for the inevitable new struggles ahead.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 11 August 2005:

Defend democratic rights

Trade unions must mobilise against terrorism, racism and war

Dewsbury: Uniting and organising against racism

60 years after Hiroshima: Nuclear proliferation makes socialist change more urgent

Justice for Heathrow's Gate Gourmet workers

No hospital closures

Journalists on all-out strike

Firefighters defend life-saving services

Royal Mail announce redundancies

Northern Ireland after the IRA statement: Why the 'peace process' continues to flounder

Greek workers resist neo-liberal attacks

Union split reflects crisis in US labour


 

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Related links:

Greece:

triangleGreece-Turkey border refugee crisis

triangleGreece elections: Syriza ousted amid voter disillusionment

triangleDeadly fires ravage Greece: austerity contributed to high loss of life and property

triangleObituary: Ged Travers 1957-2018

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: Greece - still plundered by EU austerity

Xekinima:

triangleEurope and the workers' movement after Brexit

triangleGreek general strike: more needed to defeat austerity

triangleGreece - general strike against austerity sees mass protests

Public sector:

trianglePCS elections: Support socialist candidates

triangleProbation privatisation failure

trianglePCS: Vote Yes to strike for better pay

PASOK:

triangleSyriza victory shows austerity elite can be beaten

triangleGreece: towards a Syriza government?

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