Greece: General Strike Reiterates People’s Rejection of Neo-Liberal Austerity Agenda

Athens, November 27, 2014

Public sector workers across Greece staged a one-day general strike on November 27 as part of the people’s steadfast resistance to the anti-social austerity being imposed on them to pay for a crisis not of their making. The government’s upcoming austerity measures include more layoffs and pension cuts demanded by the troika of international creditors — the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These austerity measures were promised to the troika in return for two bailouts totalling $300 billion, which have done nothing to assist the people’s living and working conditions. Protesters pointed out that the austerity measures are pushing the country to the verge of a “humanitarian crisis.”

The strike was organized by Greece’s private sector union GSEE and its public sector counterpart ADEDY, the countries two largest unions. Public offices were closed and state hospitals ran with only emergency staff. Hundreds of flights were grounded and local transportation was severely disrupted, including ferry and train services. Courts and public schools were also closed.

The day before, journalists in Greece went on a 24-hour strike, pulling all newscasts off the air, also to protest the austerity measures.

Capital-centred news agencies report that Greece is now out of a six-year recession. Yet it is also reported that household incomes have fallen by one-third in that time. Unemployment is at 26 per cent, the highest in the EU. Meanwhile, according to the EU official job data service, Eurostat, 56.3 per cent of young people in Greece were without a job in June 2014. The country’s debt burden remains proportionally the highest of any country using the euro currency.

The nationwide strike coincided with negotiations between the troika and the government in Brussels for Greece to exit the bailout program ahead of schedule. The European part of Greece’s bailout program currently expires December 31, and the IMF’s in March 2016. To meet the creditors’ demands, Greece would have to further eliminate workers’ rights and pensions, increase taxes and suspend a tax relief program. The Greek government claims its 2015 budget is nearly balanced and that further cuts are unnecessary.

The main opposition party, Syriza, opposes further austerity, and has said it will block a scheduled presidential election in February. This would likely lead to an early general election that recent polls indicate Syriza would win.

The leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, speaking at a protest rally in Athens on November 27, said the crisis with the creditors “confirms in the most dramatic way that the strategy of submission and servitude to the irrational demands and desires of the troika is a dead end.”

(Press TV, New York Times, BBC, Photos: KKE, PAME)

Athens, November 27, 2014
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