Mass strikes with only hours prior warning are unfolding in Greece after the government announced new crippling measures for workers
The government’s announcements of the new austerity measures dictated by the EU have rendered the greek PM’s talk of a “state of war” concrete. The new measures include a 30% cut in public workers’ 13th and 14th salary, as well as 12% cut in all salary subsidies, which in reality amounts to a sum of more than 1/12 of the total annual salary. In addition the government has announced new taxes for alcohol and cigarettes, as well as a universal VAT of 21% that is considered crippling by shop-owners and small free-lance enterpeneurs. Not one measure is however targeted towards the construction-banking-press-shipping trusts that plague the country.
The reaction to the measures has been immediate and acute:
Just hours after the announcement of the new measures, layed-off workers of Olympic Airways attacked riot police lines guarding the State General Accountancy and have occupied the building, in what they call a open-ended occupation. The action has led to the closing of Athens’ main commercial street, Panepistimiou, for long hours.
On Thursday morning, workers under the Communist Party union umbrella PAME occupied the Ministry of Finance on Syntagma square (which remains under occupation) as well as the county headquarters of the city of Trikala. Later, PAME also occupied 4 TV station in the city in Patras, and the state TV station of Salonica, forcing the news broadcasters to play a DVD against government measures.
On Thursday afternoon, two protest marches took to the streets of Athens. The first, called by PAME, and the second by OLME, the teachers union and supported by ADEDY. The latter gathered around 10,000 people despite less than 24h notice, and during its course limited clashes developed with the riot police which was pilled with rocks outside the EU Commission building. Also two protest marches took to the streets of Salonica at the same time.A protest march was also realised in the city of Lamia.
Finally, the party offices of PASOK in the town of Arta were smashed by what it is beliaved to be people enraged by the measures
ADEDY and GSEE (public and private sector union umbrellas) have declared a 4h stoppage of work across the country for tomorrow and a central demo outside the Parliament at noon. The two giant unions are hinting at a general strike for the 11th of March.
PAME has declared a 24h strike in all sectors for Friday.
All buses, trolleys, the metro, intercity trains, and trams as well as most flights of Aegean and Olympic Airways apart from a few security flights been be halted, as workers in means of mass transport have called a 24h strike. The strike will immobilise the country.
All schools will remain closed, as teachers have called a 24h strike.
All public TV and radio, as well as the Athens News Agency, all municipal radio stations and the Ministry of Press have declared a 24h strike and a demo in front of the Journalist Union building in Athens.
All hospitals across the country will be serving only immergency cases, as doctors have declared a 24h strike.
No garbage will be collected on Friday, as refuse collectors have declared a 24h strike, while they have also announced another strike and a protest march for March the 10th.
Pensioners will be performing a protest march in Salonica on Friday morning.
Students are holding assemblies in their schools to decide their participation in the struggle, with many schools already having decided to move to occupation and participate in the marches.
It is indicative of the climate of public rage that even cops have announced a demo outside the Athens Police Hq for the 11th of March.
Tax officers have also announced a 2day strike starting on Monday, while school traffic wardens in Northern Greece have announced a 3-day long strike starting on Monday.
The people’s reaction to the austerity measures are expected to further explode as the EU Commission is pressuring for the implementation of similar measures for the private sector. It is believed that such a move could bring the country on the brink of social insurrection.