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Greece

Greece’s forty-eight-hour strike against cuts

By Argiris Panagopoulos

IN THE RADICAL PRESS / IL MANIFESTO

Greece was inundated yesterday by a tsunami of strikes and protests that will continue today and tomorrow with a 48-hour general strike that is likely to become a continuous agitation with a siege of parliament if Wednesday night lawmakers pass new cuts worth €13.5 billion. Almost all trade unions and trade associations have adhered to the call of GSEE and ADEDY, the public and private sector trade unions which have already confirmed they will be joining the European strike and events of November 14.

Yesterday morning two processions passed through Athens and converged on Syntagma Square calling for the withdrawal of the cuts and the restoration of workers’ rights removed by the tripartite government of prime minister Samaras (leader of the center-right New Democracy), Venizelos (the socialist party Pasok) and Koubelis (Democratic Left) and the Troika. The gathering in Parliament Square will be repeated tomorrow, but it is expected to become permanent in the event of a vote in favour of the cuts.

The city is paralyzed by the strike affecting all means of transport: today rail, bus trolleybuses, trains and other commuter transport will stop. Even the ships remain in port. It is impossible to get a taxi, drivers cross their arms. Doctors in the public and private sector announced that they will continue the strikes for every day of the parliamentary debate over the cuts and the budget. Wednesday pharmacies and banks will be closed, while today there are no newspapers at newsstands. The lawyers have called a strike for five days, while the combative trade union of workers of the power company Denop Deh yesterday proclaimed continuous
48-hour strikes, increasing government fears that the union led by the unpredictable Fotopoulos will shut down seven of the ten largest power plants in the country.

The two large confederations of traders, Esee and Gsebee, have called on their members to mobilize against taxes and cuts that “will give the coup de grace to the consumer and the industry’s survival.” Many municipalities of Athens and elsewhere are occupied by local government workers.

The climate is very tense.

The minister of Citizen Protection Dendias continues with the tactics of preventative repression, dispersing protesters before they arrive en masse in front of the parliament, but after complaints from the British newspaper The  Guardian, who exposed the torture of police on the protesters, it is increasingly isolated. SYRIZA, the leading Greek political party in the polls, is in any case prepared for the worst. It is still equipped for the worst. It will take to the streets, along with the communist KKE and the small extra-parliamentary Antarsya, equipped with gas masks and medicine, instead of the traditional banners and portable megaphones. The leader of the radical left coalition Alexis Tsipras has stated that to participate in the protests he has canceled his trip to the Congress of the radical Left Bloc in Lisbon and his participation in the long-awaited Firenze10 +10 conference in Italy.

Nobody knows how the voting in parliament will pan out since within the governing parties a bad mood reigns, and an awareness of the social disaster that will result from new cuts . New Democracy and PASOK together have 158 of the 300 parliamentary deputies, but how many of those will vote at the last moment against cuts or abstain instead in order to support the government still remains a mystery. The leader of the Democratic Left Koubelis is in constant communication with the other two leaders who support the government and his official position, rather than voting against, appears to be to vote ‘present’ for the bill and thus indicate opposition to cuts [and regressive hire and fire labour reforms] and in favour of the financial budget to be voted on Sunday. A way to continue to be a partner of the government and appease the strong opposition within his party.

Il Manifesto

06.11.2012

Translation by Revolting Europe

Video – The Guardian/Reuters

Photos – Demotix

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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