Greek General Strike
by Stephen Lendman
Thursday’s walkout was the first post-September snap election general public strike against SYRIZA’s unconditional surrender to harsh Troika austerity demands, more draconian than previous ones imposed.
Perhaps in an attempt to deflect criticism and shift blame for its own public trust betrayal to Brussels and Berlin, SYRIZA’s labor policy department issued a duplicitous statement saying: “Everyone should join the strikes and rallies on November 12.”
“We are fighting for our rights in the fields of work, insurance and decent life. Say ‘no’ to austerity policies in Greece and in Europe” – despite SYRIZA Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ignoring overwhelming anti-austerity sentiment and agreeing to impose harsher than ever measures.
Short-term strikes accomplish nothing. Greece’s two largest unions, ADEDY (public sector) and GSEE (private sector), called for a 24-hour November 12 walkout. It followed days of unrest earlier.
Ferry workers struck for two days. Transport workers, teachers and students held protest strikes against working conditions, pension, education and other social benefit cuts.
Greek parliamentarians are gradually implementing Troika demanded draconian measures. New mortgage rules once in place put around 320,000 Greek homeowners at risk of eviction for being in arrears on payments. Troika bandits offered no concessions, full compliance demanded regardless of how devastating for long-suffering households.
Greek political scientist Evita Nolka said post-2008-09 financial crisis left 36% of Greeks either impoverished, “severely materially deprived,” or living with families “with very low work intensity.”
Newly imposed austerity measures mainly affect small businesses, homeowners and workers nearing retirement. Earlier ones first instituted in 2010 included “(s)evere cuts in public spending, deep reductions in wages and pensions, enormous tax increases, and a stripping back of labor protections…presumably to stabilize the economy and gain the confidence of financial markets.”
Instead, they plunged Greece into protracted Depression, an ever-deepening black hole, with “disastrous social implications,” SYRIZA committed to exacerbating them, breaking its anti-austerity pledge, governing like hard-right parties.
Since 2010, Greece’s economy declined by over 25%. Industrial production is down 35%. Around 250,000 small and medium-sized enterprises closed down. The ratio of national debt to GDP is 174%, projected to reach 200%. The more Greece borrows, the greater its debt burden grows, the more impossible for it to be repaid.
Over a million jobs disappeared. Most remaining are rotten ones. Unemployment is around 25%. Youth unemployment exceeds 50%.
Poverty and despair are pervasive nationwide. Over 200,000 Greek youths emigrated in search of better opportunities. Few good ones exist at home.
Newly demanded austerity cuts assure greater than ever economic destruction and human misery. Tsipras bears full responsibility for selling out to Troika monied interests.
Will scattered strike and other public reactions mushroom to something much greater? Greeks are ill-governed no matter which party or coalition rules. Unions are in bed with politicians, betraying their rank-and-file.
Nationwide, sustained mass resistance is the only chance for change – ordinary Greeks on their own staying the course. Nothing else can work – not in Greece, elsewhere in Europe, America or Canada.
Western neoliberalism destroys all hope for social justice. Ordinary people are on their own to regain it through street actions and civil disobedience. Voting is a waste of time. Business as usual always wins.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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