The Spark

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

Greece:
Thousands of Workers Against Austerity

Sep 17, 2012

On September 8th, at the Salonika International Fair in Greece, there were several demonstrations involving 30,000 people protesting austerity. The day before, representatives of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund arrived once again in Athens, to specify the necessary measures to take another 15 billion dollars from Greek workers, especially public workers.

The financial leaders had sent a letter to the Greek ministers of finance and labor demanding they introduce more “flexibility” into labor law, for example, imposing a six-day work week with no increase in pay, reducing break time, etc.

The angry demonstrators included both public sector workers, private sector workers and in yet another demonstration, the union tendency of the Greek Communist Party. Even the police demonstrated to protest cuts in their wages.

Over the past two years, the income of Greek workers has already been reduced by 17 billion dollars. Nine hundred jobs are lost each day. Unemployment affects almost one person in four, and more than half of young people are unemployed. In northern Greece, the unions estimate the unemployment rate is 30%.

From the demands of the financiers to the denials and delays of the government, announcements rain down on the heads of Greek workers: pushing back the retirement age to 66; reducing Social Security retirement payments of those getting over $9,000 a year; laying off another 150,000 government workers between now and 2015; cutting public sector workers’ pay by 35%. All this is meant to give capital back to the banks and pay back the public debt of private businesses, while public services are dismantled. Health care is in critical condition. At the national level, Greece needs 20,000 nurses and 6,000 doctors; aides in health care haven’t received overtime pay for time worked for seven months. Even the union of soldiers has protested pay and pension cuts.

On September 12th, state hospital doctors, school teachers and local government workers went on strike to protest wage cuts and local government funding reductions. So the protests continue. The Greek working class has shown it is not willing to pay the cost so the bankers can grow fatter.