Greece: real choice is workers vs bosses

Submitted by Matthew on 28 September, 2011 - 12:37

The Greek socialist group Okde has made the following response to the latest developments in the Greek debt crisis.

Call a general strike! Overthrow the government! Defy the IMF and EU rules! Don’t pay the debt!

The new austerity measures that the Greek government has announced are only the beginning of a new barrage of anti-working-class and anti-social measures that the supposedly socialist Government of PASOK is intended to take in the rest of 2011 and the following years.

They are the continuation of the austerity measures taken in previous years, in the name of the Greek debt and reduction of the deficit, that have destroyed the social cohesion of the Greek society and have led to a massive rise in unemployment, poverty, and destitution for the majority of the Greek working class.

The following extra measures have been announced:

1. Non-taxable income has been further reduced to a meagre €5,000 per year, which is preposterous taking into account that the poverty level is defined at €6,897 per year. The immorality and hard-core capitalist commitment of the PASOK government is exposed — Greek workers/pensioners with a monthly wage of €357 will be taxed! This measure will further reduce the annual income of workers and pensioners by at least €700.

2. Pensions will further be reduced. In particular, from November, reductions of 20% will be imposed on pensioners that earn over €1200 per month. The impact of these reductions should be considered in the context of the attacks on pensions during 2010 (i.e. increase in the pensioners’ insurance contributions, cancellation of additional benefit,s etc).

3. Workers who “decided” to take their pension at the age of 55 or younger (mostly women and workers in hard manual jobs), will see their pensions further reduced by 40%, for every pension above €1000 per month.

4. From next month, what is euphemistically referred to as the “homogeneous salary scheme” will be introduced for all public sector, utility sector and council workers. Public sector workers’ wages will follow the lowest denominator rule. Similarly, other wage elements such as taxation, contributions, insurances, benefits will be adjusted to the lowest comparative standards. The above measure is expected to reduce the income of a public sector worker and their family by up to 50%. The consequences on family budgets and on mortgage repossession are unimaginable.

5. Introduction of the concept of “workers in reserve employment”, another word for masking unemployment. Between now and the end of 2011 30,000 public sector workers will effectively lose their current jobs and be placed in the new status of “reserve employment”. The salary of these workers will be slashed by 50% to 60% of their current salary and eventually they will be sacked, with the pretext of making a more lean and efficient public sector.

6. Further enhancement of the structural adjustments and changes. Speeding up of the privatisation program. Sell off €5 billion worth of public property and public services till the end of 2011 and a total of €50 billion up to the end of 2015. Close down a lot of public sector services and dismantle labour laws and workers’ rights. Getting rid of the collective power of workers negotiations and introduce “business settlements and agreements” that overwrite “collective workers’ rights” and fragments and isolates the collective and negotiating power of the workers.

7. An additional tax on property owners.

The list goes on and on. More attacks on the workers’ rights and standards of living are anticipated this year and the years to come. There is no light at the end of this tunnel.

The hated clique of PASOK, Papandreou, and Venizelos is blackmailing the Greek workers and society with false choices: “Acceptance of the austerity measurements or bankruptcy”, ”Be members of the European Union and follow the euro, or follow an isolationist anti-EU policy”.

The truth though is apparent: the austerity measures lead to bankruptcy for the Greek working class. The continuous devaluation of the workers’ wages, the restriction of our social and political rights, the dismantling and the privatisation of our public services, have a devastating effect on our education system, our welfare state, our health system, the things which reflect the struggles and achievements of the Greek working class after the second world war.

The real choice is the following: ”Us (Greek workers) against Them (Government, capitalists, EU, IMF)”. Socialism or barbarism captures it.

The workers should reclaim the wealth that we produce, or they, the capitalists, are going to carry on accumulating unimaginable wealth and savings (such as the €600 billion that are stored in Greek citizens’ accounts in Swiss banks, an amount exceeding the Greek national debt).

We should not save the economy. We should save ourselves — workers, peasants, pensioners, youth. We should refuse to be sacrificed for the needs of the bankrupt capitalist system, financial speculators, the EU, and the IMF.

We have to start by reorganising our solidarity and struggle by refusing to obey and pay any illegally imposed new taxes by the unaccountable PASOK government.

We have to increase our numbers and unify all movements of resistance (public and private sector workers, transportation workers, taxi drivers, utility sector workers, students, pensioners, unemployed). Our action should bring Greece to a standstill.

We have to demonstrate where the real power lies. We should put forward the demand of another society, which has our needs as its priority, a socialist, radical democratic society.

Both our content and form of struggles should match the level and aggressiveness of their attacks. Contrary to the timid calls from the reformist parties (KKE and SYRIZA) for parliamentary elections, we should organise and fight for a continuous general strike. A general strike called and organised from below by us workers, without relying on the union bureaucracy that tries to paralyse the trade union struggles and lead the workers to defeat at the negotiating table.

United to overthrow this government and the consensus of all the bourgeois parties, EU and IMF, on the attacks on the Greek working class.

Our core demands should be:

1. Refusal to obey any government impose austerity measures

2. Abolish the national debt

3. Call a general strike to overthrow the PASOK government and its austerity measures

4. Nationalise all banks, utility services and big businesses, without compensation to the capitalists and under workers’ control

5. Fight for a truly democratic, accountable, radical socialist society

• www.okde.gr Translation by Theodora Polenta.

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