Des milliers des salariés grecs ont répondu jeudi à l’appel à la grève des syndicats proches du parti communiste et de la gauche radicale pour protester contre le plan d’austérité du gouvernement, destiné à sortir le pays de la crise qui a ébranlé toute la zone euro.
Au moment où le ministre grec des Finances rencontrait ses partenaires européens et les investisseurs pour tenter de les rassurer sur les engagements du gouvernement, environ quatre mille salariés et fonctionnaires des syndicats indépendants de l’éducation secondaire (OLME) ont défilé dans le calme au centre d’Athènes en début d’après-midi.
Cette grève était considérée comme un premier test pour les socialistes au pouvoir depuis le 4 octobre, au lendemain d’un nouvel abaissement de la note à long terme de la dette de la Grèce par l’agence de notation américaine Standard & Poor’s qui l’a faite passer de mercredi de A- à BBB+. L’agence Fitch avait pris la même décision le 8 décembre.
Le Front de lutte syndical (PAME), émanation de l’ultra-orthodoxe parti communiste (KKE), et le rassemblement de la gauche radicale Syriza, avaient appelé à une grève générale dans l’ensemble du pays.
La puissante Union des journalistes d’Athènes (Esyea) s’est jointe au mouvement, privant le pays de journaux télévisés ou radiophoniques, de journaux nationaux, tandis que les services de l’agence de presse nationale Ana étaient suspendus.
La grève n’a cependant pas entraîné de perturbations dans les transports, terrestres ou aériens, les deux plus importantes confédérations syndicales, la GSEE (600'000 adhérents) et l’Adedy (200'000 membres) pour la fonction publique, toutes deux dirigées par des socialistes, ne s’étant pas associées au mouvement.
Sous la pression des marchés et de ses partenaires européens, le Premier ministre Georges Papandréou avait annoncé lundi un train de mesures imposant une cure d’austérité à la fonction publique, notamment une réduction de 10% des dépenses, un gel pour les salaires de base supérieurs à 2000 euros et un coup de frein aux embauches en 2010.
Pour expliquer sa décision d’abaisser la note grecque, Standard & Poor’s a indiqué que ces mesures avaient peu de chances de se traduire par une réduction durable du fardeau de la dette publique.
L’agence précise qu’elle envisage de réduire davantage la notation «si le gouvernement ne peut obtenir le soutien politique suffisant pour mettre en œuvre un programme crédible de consolidation budgétaire à moyen terme».
Après avoir rencontré jeudi des investisseurs à Londres, le ministre des Finances Georgios Papaconstantinou a fait part de sa déception face à cette dégradation. Il estime que cela «ne reflète pas les efforts entrepris par le gouvernement grec pour stabiliser les finances publiques».
Mais «les réponses que nous avons reçues des investisseurs sont beaucoup plus positives», a-t-il ajouté.
L’objectif de redressement budgétaire fixé pour 2010 est désormais d’une réduction de l’ordre de 4% du déficit, actuellement à 12,7% du PIB. «Nous voulons aller un peu plus loin que la réduction de 3,6% prévue par le projet de budget», a indiqué une source du ministère.
Leur presse (AFP), 18 décembre 2009.
Wave of strikes sweeps Greece
A wave of strikes culminating on Thursdays pan-worker mobilisation has been the response to the scaremongering of the government amidst the worsening economic crisis that threatens Greece with bankruptcy.
After the week of riots came the week of strikes: the multifold strikes that are taking place since Tuesday 15 December and peaked on Thursday 17 with the pan-workers strike called by PAME, the Communist Party Union Front, as wells a dozens of extra-parliamentary parties of the left and first-grade unions forming demos in 58 cities and towns around Greece.
The strikes come at a critical time for the greek economy which saw a second degrading in ten days in terms of its credit, this time by the Standard & Poor’s group. The second degrading came as international finance centres claimed the austerity measures announced by the belleagured government are not likely to produce adequate results.
Due to the media strike news about Thursdays developments remain scarce; analytically:
Whereas the garbage collecting strike has been judged for a second time illegal forcing refuse collectors to the streets, large parts of Athens remain plunged in enormous piles of gargabe as refuse workers at the main open refuse dump of the capital have responded to the ban of the previous strike by blockading the gates of the depot, halting 80% of collecting activities. The workers are demanding a reversal of 200 layoffs.
The Centres of Citizen Assistance (KEP), the jewel of efficiency in the greek state’s crown, remain closed for a second day as workers are striking. This in effect freezes all private-public transaction as the KEP are the offices that issues official papers needed for any paperwork. The workers are demanding more working positions and a recognition of their previous job experience.
Kidengarden and Primary school teachers have been on strike since the 16/12. The teachers formed a demo outside the Ministry of Education demanding 1400€ minimum wage, no hour-work schedules, and two years free and obligadory kidengarden education for all children. The union has refused to engage on “tabula rasa” dialogue with the ministry. The general union of teachers of all grades joined the strike on Thursday.
Taxi drivers have gone on strike in Athens after one of their coleagues was arrested for carrying two sans-papier immigrants. The taxi drivers are demanding the abolition of the law that demands taxi drivers to ask for papers from immigrants that ride on their vehicles, and the immediate release of their colleague.
All hospital doctors across the country have gone on strike on Thursday and all intensive care units remain closed.
In Peiraeus, talks were concluded on Tuesday regarding the leasing of the Second Pier of Peiraeus to COSCO which was agreed on a bases of 69 million euros collective compensation to the workers, an ammount that has created a storm of political accusations by the opposition. Nevertheless the Mechanics Union of the Merchant Fleet has gone on a “warning strike” on Thursday demanding a minimum 1400€ salary.
Geologists, designers and mechanics have also joined the strike demanding that “we do not pay their crisis.”
All media have gone on a 24 hours strike unil Friday morning demanding the end of the “hostage status” of contract workers, free information sharing emancipated from commodification, and the abolition of all laws infirnging social security. As a result there are no news broadcasts on radio TV or the internet. Moreover workers of ERT3 the Salonica based state channel are accusing their directors of going against union decisions and sharing riot footage with the police.
Apart from the wave of strikes other fronts of the social/ class struggle remain tense:
A protest march took to the streets of Ioannina on the 16 of December protesting against the invasion of police forces in the social centre of the city during the days commemorating Alexandros Grigoropoulos assassination.
In Chania the immigrants social centre and a house of a comrade came under arson attack by neonazis who painted swastigas on the walls of the social centre. There were no human injuries and minimal damage on both buildings. The attack comes as an escalation of parastate violence in the Cretan city, after warnings (or threats) by the minister of public order that left and anarchist violence will result in extreme-right terror attacks. A protest march has been called by greens, immigrant groups, anarchists, left wing parties, animal rights groups and the local teacher’s union for Thursday night against parastate-fascist terror.
In Athens, an effort by the extreme-right parliamentary party LAOS to set up a racist local committee with the purpose to purge African immigrants from Amerikis Square was countered when triple the number of antiracists and antifascists responded to the call. The MP of LASO has to take refuge amidst heckling and the attempts to revamp the vigilante plans that have been degenerating in the nearby Agios Panteleimonas square since the end of the summer were temporarily at least contained.
In Salonica, an initiative of lawyers has sued the government for police arbitrariness on the 6th and 7th of December: illegal preventive arrests, illegal fingerprinting and breaching of the university asylum. A member of the directorate of the lawyers association of Salonica has declared that all sueing lawyers have been eyewitnesses to the police illegal actions which are in breach of the constitution that forbids the outlawing or inhibition of protest marches and demos. No permit is needed in Greece to form a demo or a protest march. Fingerprinting of detainees is allowed according to a law of the junta and is more and more resisted by protesters.
The border tolls of Euzone in Kilkis remain close due to blokades by farmers demanding the immediate apyment of a compensation for the 2007 draught.
On the morning of Thursday the greek police was once again shamed by the suicide attempt of the legal council to the minister of public order who jumpted from the 7th floor of the ministry. Mr Diotis is the son of the notorious district attorney who was responsible for chamically torturing Savas Xiros, the first arrested member of the guerrilla group 17 November, in the intensive care of Evangelismos hospital in 2002. The man is struggling for his life in hospital, his fall being impeded by a row of trees. Moreover the credibility of the greek police has been once again shaken by a poll that revealed than almost 60% of officers consider quiting their jobs if they have to wear insignia with their number or name while on duty, as recently announced by the ministry. Obviously the cops are not willing not to be able brutilise citizens unpunishable.
Update: Strikers have occupied the broadcasting headquarters of ERT3, the Salonica state channel. The media strikers interrupted the news broadcast of the scabs reading an announcement condemning breaking the strike. ERT3 is the only national channel that has broken the strike broadcasting news bulletins. Other strikers simultaneously occupied the Salonica editors association officers of the city for not participating in the strike.
Yesterday members of PAME the Communist union umbrella had symbolically occupied the ministry of economics blocking the minister’s office, dropping a huge banner on the front of the building.
Also last night radicals attacked a series of banks in the centre of Kavala in Thrace, smashing their fronts and torching them with molotov cocktails. 18 suspects were later detained but released.
It must be noted that the strikes are against the will of the PASOK controlled greek CGT.
2nd update: The workers march in Iraklio, Crete was concluded with a blockade of the medical centre of the city due to nine people being sacked in the past month.
In Athens contract workers for the county of Attiki occupied the municipal headquarters in Sygrou avenue protesting against the sacking of 300 co-workers at the end of November.
Also thugs attacked strikers at a construction site of the National Electricity Company today inflicting serious injuries to three workers who have been hospitalised. The construction sector unionism is predominantly and historically Communist Party controlled.
3rd update: On aftermath of the great strike, on Friday morning stage workers demanding equal treatment by the government's labour scheme occupied the Ministry of Labour blocking all ministerial operations. Stage workers have also symbolically occupied the municipal headquarters of Serres in northern greece.
At the same time workers of Caberos transport company, a branch of a tycoon construction company, in Athens have started an open end strike demanding a clear setting of the date in the month for salary payment and improvement of health conditions and imediate payment of all salaries owed to employees.
Meanwhile a barrage of arson attacks was realised between 1:30 and 2:00 in the early hours of Friday against offices of the ruling socialist party across Athens.
Occupations, sometimes symbolic other times more permanent, of factories, schools, universities and government buildings has been a long struggle tradition in greece. During Friday unionists also moved to a temporary occupation of the social security bureau (IKA) in the centre of Athens protesting against the anti-worker crisis measures proposed by the government.
The occupation of TV and radio channels however is a development directly introduced by the anarchists and emulated for the first time by other protesters. For footage look at http://www.tvxs.gr/v28558 (at the 5:00 minute of the video the occupiers start broadcasting their communique).
Naturally the government has tried to portray the occupations as an outrage. The minister of labour has declared it is a violent means that will not be tolerated again. To this the rep of the stage workers has responded as follows:
“The minister says we are exercising violence, but the worse kind of violence is being exercised by the government. When we are years now without social security, not being able to cover our basic needs while the state is fooling us about the funding of our salaries. When we are losing our jobs just before are we not the victoms of state violence?” adding that “it’s the workers not the unions who are struggling for their rights.”
Meanwhile the refuse collecting workers of Peiraeus have called a 48 hours strike and have announced rolling 24 hours strikes starting on Monday, demanding a reversal of administrative reforms in the municipality that are jeopardising skilled workers positions.
Libcom, December 17th, 2009.