Friday, March 05, 2010

[olympiaworkers] Mass Strikes in Greece in response to new measures Mar 4 2010

protesters confront riot police outside Athens EU Commission building

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

For Friday:

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.

Long battles erupt in Athens protest march
Submitted by taxikipali on Mar 5 2010

Long battles erupted today at the Athens protest march against the
measures. The GSEE union boss was heavily beaten by protesters while
battles with the cops developed for 3 hours all across the centre of the
city after riot police attacked anti-Nazi resistance symbol Manolis Glezos

The demo called by ADEDY, the public sector umbrella union, and GSEE, the
private sector umbrella union, started gathering at 12:30 in Syntagma
square, after another 10,000 strong demo by Communist Party umbrella
union, PAME had ended its own demo and marched to Omonoia square. Soon
around 10,000 people gathered in Syntagma, a large number considering
there is only a 4 hour stoppage and not a strike today.

All was quiet until the GSEE union boss Mr Panagopoulos took the
microphone to address the protest. Before managing to utter more than five
words, the hated union boss was attacked by all kinds of protestors who
first heckled him and threw bottles of water and yogurt on his face and
then attacked him physically like a giant swarm. With bruises, cuts and
his clothes torn, the PASOK lackey struggled his way towards police lines,
as the people attacked again and again. Finally he managed to hide behind
the Presidential Guard and up the steps of the Parliament where the hated
austerity measures were being voted. The crowd below encouraged him to go
where he belongs, to the lair of thieves, murderers and liars.

What the bourgeois media call the "lynching" of the union supreme boss
became a prime subject of infight within the parliament with the
government accusing the Radical Left Coalition that the attackers
originated from its block (GSEE itself blaming KOE, a Maoist group of the
Coalition), a half-truth at best. The Communist Party has refused to
condemn the attack, only noting it disagrees with it. This is the first
time such a high ranking union boss is attacked at a rally that its union
has called, and the act is widely believed to mark a new era in union
history in greece. The initial phase of the attack against the union boss
can be seen here:

Soon after the beating of Panagopoulos, small skirmishes started between
protesters and riot police forces in the form of body-to-body battles in
front of the Parliament. During one of these incidents, riot cops attacked
Manolis Glezos, the heroic anti-nazi resistance fighter who had lowered
the nazi flag from the Acropolis during the german occupation. The elderly
man was trying to help a man from being arrested at them time and had to
be removed from the battle scene in an ambulance as tear gas fired
directly on his face caused him serious pneumonic problems and he remains
in serious condition in hospital (for a video of the attack see

The attack on Glezos gave the signal for a general attack of thousands of
people against the cops, many of who were wounded during the battles which
included rocks, sticks but no molotov cocktails. During the clashes 5
people were arrested, 2 of who are accused under the anti-hood law, while
the rest with small non-criminal breaches of the law. During the clashes
many riot shields and helmets were taken from the cops and burned along
with other flaming barricades on the streets. 7 cops are reported by the
police as heavily wounded, some with knee-cap and other bone breaks.

Due to extended use of tear gas at around 14:00 the atmosphere in Syntagma
square was so unbearable that among chanting "the cops are not the
children of the workers, they are the dogs of the bosses", the demo turned
into a protest march with the direction of the Ministry of Labour, half a
km south of Omonoia square. At reaching Propylea more clashes with the
police took place, while a sole high-ranking cop was isolated and beaten
by the crowd. Further down on the way to Omonoia, protesters attacked a
riot police squad that was guarding the National Legal Council. The riot
police squad was cornered and attacked by means of sticks rocks and
flares, before being forced to retreat inside the building after one of
its members was captured by protesters and repeatedly trampled by the
angered crowd.

The march then continued to Omonoia and from there down Peireaos street
where banks, economic targets and expensive cars came under attack, before
the march reached the Ministry and the protesters tried to break its
central doors. More clashes with the police ensued and the march turned
back to front and decided to march once again to the Parliament. On the
way, cops came once again under attack by protesters with many riot
policemen wounded and retaliating by means of tear gas. After reaching the
Parliament, the march refused to desolve and took once again to the street
in a bravado of resolve, until it reached Propylea where it came to an
end. After the end of the march 6 more people were detained while taking
refuge to the Social Security Headquarters, but have been released without
any charges against them.

In Salonica, upon reaching the gates of the Ministry of Thrace and
Macedonia protesters pulled down the heavy iron fences of the Ministry and
moved into its front yard where they were confronted by riot police who
made use of tear gas amongst flaming barricades.

Finally, the workers of the National Printing Units have occupied the
premises and refuse to print the legislation imposing the austerity
measures. Unless the legislation is printed there, it is not legally
valid. Meanwhile the occupation of the State General Accountancy by
layed-off Olympic Airways workers continues. The workers have also
permanently closed off Panepistimiou street (the equivalent of Oxford
street in London), at the heigh of the building, with all traffic diverted
by side-roads.

A general strike by ADEDY and GSEE has been called for March 11.

No comments: