Within a week after the March 5 mass demonstrations and general strike, tens of thousands of angry Greek workers marched through Athens to protest austerity measures enacted to reduce Greece’s debt. Riot police fired teargas as demonstrators threw rocks and firebombs outside the Parliament building on March 11.
Workers, retirees and youth took to the streets in 68 cities and towns throughout the country. Another 24-hour strike by public and private sector workers brought business-as-usual to a standstill. In Athens the rail system operated for a few hours to allow workers to take part in the demonstration. Protesters and striking workers chanted slogans including, “Real jobs, higher pay!” while banners hung from apartment buildings that read, “No more sacrifices, war against war.” (guardian.co.uk, March 11)
The Greek government has imposed further wage cuts for public sector workers, hiring and pension freezes and consumer tax hikes in an attempt to stem a skyrocketing budget deficit and save $65 billion. These cutbacks are on top of a previous $15 billion austerity plan aimed to reduce the country’s 2010 deficit from 12.7 percent of annual output to 8.7 percent. The country has been under intense pressure from the governments of the more powerful imperialist countries in the European Union, like France and Germany, who want to keep a strong euro and pay all debts to the bankers.
‘’They are trying to make workers pay the price for this crisis,’’ said Yiannis Panagopoulos, head of the GSEE, the country’s largest union. (Associated Press, March 11) Vasilis Petropoulos, a leader of the militant All-Workers Militant Front (PAME), was the main speaker at a strike rally. “There is no national risk. No national duty calls the workers to sacrifice their rights. There is only the greed of the capitalists for profit,” he said. (inter.kke.gr)
The March 11 strike and nationwide protests were the fourth such actions by Greek workers within one month. Even big-business-owned media in the United States were forced to cover the militant actions of these workers. Video and photographs often showed elderly pensioners and retirees being brutalized by police.
The Greek workers should be an inspiration to poor and working people around the world who are sick and tired of bearing the brunt of the capitalist economic crisis. These heroic workers — young and old, employed and unemployed — are refusing to bow down and “sacrifice” to keep the profit system afloat.
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