A truly massive and major strike was held in Greece on Wednesday 26th September. Thousands of workers overcame the intimidation and the threats of the employers, the difficulties that the barbaric measures have created for the lives of the workers’ and popular families, as well as the illusions and went on strike. Tens of thousands of workers participated in the demonstrations of PAME which were held in 70 cities throughout the country.
In Athens and Thessalonica the demonstrations of PAME were impressive due to their remarkable militancy and the enormous participation of the people, something that even the sworn enemies of PAME cannot deny. It took many hours for the march to pass through Syntagma Square. Tens of thousands of workers, unemployed, pensioners, immigrants, self-employed and small traders took part in the strike demonstrations of PAME throughout the country. The high-level of the participation of the youth was also characteristic.
The impressive demonstration of PAME in Athens was the result of the work of the trade unions, the struggle committees in various workplaces, of the people’s committees which in the previous period organized assemblies, meetings and discussions in the sectors, in several factories, in workplaces and neighbourhoods. This is a fact that shows the strengthening of the class-oriented current in the labour movement; it points to the path we should follow.
Before the demonstration, the pickets of PAME in many workplaces defeated the intimidation in workplaces-ghettoes and contributed decisively to the strike. The slogans which prevailed were: “no more sacrifices for the plutocracy- we can live without memoranda and outside of the EU”. This strike is a significant response given that in this period the coalition government of ND/PASOK/Democratic Left together with the Troika is finalizing the new massacre of the people in the name of the previous allegedly life-saving haircut.
At the same time, the EU and the IMF are quarrelling over who will benefit from the possible new hair-cut while they are unanimous regarding the breaking of the people. With the new package of measures, which aims at ensuring the capitalist recovery and their profitability in the future, the capitalists and the EU are demanding the complete abolition of the collective bargaining agreements. They demand that the wages and the salaries be decided upon unilaterally by the employers and the government. The abolition of the minimum wage and salary concerns the working people in the private and the public sector as a whole as it leads to a wholesale reduction of salaries and pensions.
The 33% increase of the number of social security stamps which are required for retirement means that retirement age will not be merely the age of 67, as they officially claim, but much higher i.e. 72 years so as to conform with the average life expectancy, as is provided for by the Treaty of Maastricht. Those who own a house or a shop will be taxed without mercy. Furthermore, they promote dramatic cuts in benefits and healthcare spending by means of closing down or merging hospitals. They impose new heavy taxes along with the old ones, they cut the electricity to those who cannot pay the bill, they impose fines, cut salaries, pensions, allowances and increase the prices of all goods.
“We have never said that we will turn things upside down with a single strike. The effective struggles require above all the conflict with the capitalist employers in the basic sectors. This is what they are afraid of” said amongst other things Giorgos Perros, member of the Executive Secretariat of PAME in his speech at the strike demonstration of PAME.
“Effective struggles mean conflict and rupture with the EU. They do not want this because it does not serve the interests of the monopolies. When these gentlemen are claiming that the memoranda are an ineffective policy they are being hypocritical and lying. Effective struggles mean condemning the racist-Nazi views of “Golden Dawn”.
Alongside the well-known trade union bureaucrats we now have a new generation of bureaucrats who come from the same breeding ground of compromise and retreat in the face of the big interests, but they wear a new mask and have new customs. We are talking about the trade unionists of “Independent Intervention” which belongs to SYRIZA. After they now belatedly saw the bankruptcy of the majority of GSEE and ADEDY they are raising the flag of struggles. Struggles without any cost. Struggles without sacrifices. They consider strikes as simply being one more day’s wage lost and claim that we have to find new forms of struggle outside of the factories, the services, the workplaces.”
A large delegation of the CC of the KKE headed by the GS of the CC of the KKE, Aleka Papariga, took part in PAME’s demonstration. The GS of the CC made the following statement:
“What is needed is a new beginning in the rallying of forces, heightened forms of struggle and radical demands for the struggles to be effective. The people must believe that a Greece which is disengaged from the EU, a Greece where the people are in charge can ensure social prosperity and prevent the worst. If the people do not believe this, then the parties of power will have the upper hand, as well as the plutocrats and the various managers of the system who shamelessly mock them.”
The limited incidents, which the media, especially the international media, exaggerated, were aimed at concealing the size and the demands of the strike mobilizations. The KKE made the following comment:
“The enormous mobilization of the police in order to deal with a few dozen hooded ones, the arrests even of school students a long distance away from the centre of Athens from early in the morning onwards, the chase and the game of “hit and run” up to Omonia square, demonstrates the desire of the government and the various mechanisms to intimidate the people. It also proves that they have prepared a plan for the repression of the people’s movement even though it was not fully implemented today at the general strike and the enormous demonstrations of PAME all over Greece”.
The next steps are being prepared from the day after the strike, in militant readiness for new mobilizations in all sectors, workplaces so as to prevent the measures that lead to the destitution of the people. The people must fearlessly strengthen their struggles even more; they must not accept the contemporary slavery.