Greece: the system is bankrupt

Submitted by Matthew on 5 October, 2011 - 10:15

ADEDY, the Greek public sector union organisation, has started a wave of occupations from 3 October.

Occupations are taking place in the ministries of economics, culture, agriculture and development, justice, and labour, and in ten local councils.

GSEE, the private sector union organisation, is already calling for a general strike on 19 October. The leader of ADEDY has denounced the Pasok government as sacrificing public sector workers and services to the financial speculators. “Our response will be a waves of strikes-occupations and demonstrations”.

The leader of GSEE said: “Our struggles will carry on as long as their policies that push all Greek working class to poverty and destitution carry on. The Pasok government is not saving our country, because our country is the Greek workers who are under attack”.

648 schools and over 97 universities are occupied against the government's attacks on education. In particular, On 3 October a massive demonstration of students on the centre of Athens blocked all roads and paralysed the traffic for hours, asking for more money to meet educational needs.

On 5 October GSEE and ADEDY have jointly called for a 24 hour strike. Transport workers, journalists, lawyers, public hospital workers, utility workers, tax collectors and others will join this strike.

The 5 October strikes, hand in hand with workers' and students' occupations, should be the start of a continuous general strike.

Every workplace should call meetings to vote on participation. Now is the time to transform these 24 hour strikes into a continuous general strike.

With Greece in crisis, and a slump in productive investments, the answer from the government and the troika is more and more extensive attacks on the working class.

Those will reduce further the tax contributions of workers, push more workers on unemployment and dependence on the benefit system, and reduce even further their buying power, and so push the economy even further into stagnation. The vicious circle will sucking workers' pensions and wages into the bankers' black hole.

The Greek Budget due to be voted on after the middle of October sets this rough schedule:

• Public sector spending to be reduced from 15.2 billion euros to 13.2 billion euros

• Pension spending to stay roughly the same, going from 6.5 billion to 6.6 billion euros, despite the thousands of Greek workers that will be forced into reliance on pensions within the next months.

• Tax revenues to be increased, with more direct and indirect taxes hitting Greek workers.

The “troika” (EU, European Central Bank, and IMF), Greece's Pasok (Labour) government, and the Greek Tory Party (New Democracy) are all in virtual agreement. They disagree only on the form and distribution of the attack.

There is national and international agreement and unity between the Greek capitalist class and the international institutions.

Despite the Greek government's “good intentions”, its numbers did not add up on the weekend of 2-3 October. The Greek deficit is expected to amount to 8.5% of GDP rather than the 7.6% required by the Troika (EU, European Central Bank, IMF) for more credit.

Now 30,000 workers in Greece's public sector are to be sacked. Each department will be bullied to prepare a list of 10% of workers “surplus to requirements”. About 8,000 workers will be placed “on hold” and have their wage reduced to 60% of its already reduced level (around 700 to 800 euros per month).

These workers “have the right” to apply for new jobs. But the minister has announced that for every ten to fifteen workers leaving the public sector, at most one new job will be created.

A further 18,000 to 20,000 workers within two years of retirement will also be put “on hold”, on 60% of their wages, awaiting their reduced pension. 3,000 to 4,000 public sector workers still working above age 65 will be sacked.

The government has the cheek to reassure public sector workers that it will make special arrangements for married couples so that only one of the two will be sacked! That is the Greek Pasok (Labour) government's definitions of workers' rights.

For years now Greek governments have tried to divide Greek workers by saying that those in the public sector are privileged at the expense of private-sector workers.

The cuts build on a long-prepared ideological war against the “cumbersome” public sector and the “laziness” of its workers.

Despite government propaganda that public sector wages brought the debt crisis, and if the public sector wages are cut then private sector workers' wages and rights will be saved, the opposite is true. The Troika has asked the Pasok government to intervene to reduce further private sector workers' nationally agreed minimum wage.

However honourable and symbolic refusal to pay the newly imposed taxes and the burning of the government papers are, they are not enough to deter the government and the Troika. Strikes and occupations have the power, and can stop them.

No worker should be fooled by the government's and media’s propaganda that our strikes will lead Greece to bankruptcy. Their system and their arguments are bankrupt. Our hard earned wages and pensions go to inflate their financial bubbles that are destined to burst. They are the past. We are the future.

Our united struggle can stop to the coordinated government and Troika attacks, and push forward its own alternative proposals: to take control of the banks, the public sector, the utility companies, and big business, and to utilise the wealth that is produced for the benefit and in the interests of its producers.

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