The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Anger on the Streets

Mar 20, 2023

This article is translated from the March 17 issue, #2850 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Protests against Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ right-wing government continue, a week and a half after the train disaster which killed 57 people on the Athens-Thessaloniki line near Larissa.

Protests brought together 65,000 people in different cities on March 8. On March 12, 12,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Athens, and 5,000 in Thessaloniki.

The anger has not subsided. The more details the investigation reveals about how two trains tragically collided, the more they confirm the responsibility of railway line executives and current and previous governments for the blight of the rail network.

According to a report published by the press, breakdowns, delays, and other incidents piled up on February 28. One incident would have required a temporary route change due to a severed electrical cable. The drivers of the passenger train and the freight train knew of some of these malfunctions and tried to communicate. But they tried in vain given the shortages of the rail system. These problems happen frequently. But on that day the accumulated problems proved fatal. Faulty and non-existent control and communication equipment did not compensate for a single human error.

The Larissa station master, who was new, was arrested and charged with negligent homicide. The traffic inspector who had assigned him to that position was also charged, along with two station masters who left their posts early. But Mitsotakis also had to acknowledge the years of neglect, and offer his “profound apologies.” This didn’t pacify the unions, which had been warning for months of an impending disaster. Nor did it placate the population, especially young people who showed up in force at the marches to denounce the government which is responsible for the deaths of so many of their fellow students riding the smashed train.

The judicial system machinery jolted on, and the supreme court decided to blame senior railway management. The prosecutor asked for the files on all fatal rail accidents, to reassess the investigations. For example, a derailment in May 2017 on the same line near Thessaloniki left four dead and five seriously injured. That investigation concluded only that there was a speeding violation.

Will the investigation into this tragedy bring all the rotten deals into view? Not likely! As for the European Union and its bankers—who complain about having paid 700 million dollars to modernize the rail network—they spearheaded holding the population at ransom by imposing unprecedented austerity and corrupt administration.

The Greek government aims to keep a low profile, especially as legislative elections are approaching. But demonstrators are correct to yell, "We will not forget! We will not forgive!" It is on the streets that they can make themselves heard, now and tomorrow.