Greece

The protest of the Ministry of Culture workers began on Tuesday using banners and distributing leaflets stating their demands to foreign tourists and locals visiting the Acropolis. Their request was to renew the contracts of their co-workers who cover permanent needs of the ministry but who are employed on fixed term contracts.

In the recent period the response of the Greek working class to a series of severe austerity packages has been magnificent. We have seen mass mobilisations, public sector strikes and general strikes. In spite of all this, the PASOK government has pushed through several austerity packages and is preparing even more attacks. The question is therefore posed as to where the movement goes from here. What is the next step?

The constant attacks on the Greek working class over recent months have finally brought the situation to boiling point. The workers have had enough! They are not prepared to pay for a crisis which is not of their making. Yesterday Greece was totally paralysed as the workers and youth came out massively in protest. The tragic killing of three bank workers, however, is being used to distract attention away from this impressive show of strength by the Greek working class.

As they resort to the “rescue plan” of the EU and the IMF which is usury of the worst degree, the government, the bourgeoisie and their political mouthpieces in the media cultivate a climate of unprecedented psychological terrorism towards the working class.

Since the crisis in Greece has hit the headlines there have appeared in the bourgeois media many stories about how Greece has too many civil servants, how the working week is very short, how people retire early on fat pensions, and so on, as if this were the cause of the crisis. Facts and figures, however, can be very stubborn things and they tell a completely different story.

The downgrading of Greece’s credit ratings by Standard & Poor’s has sent shockwaves around the world’s financial markets, with stock exchanges seeing significant falls yesterday. The fear is that Greece could default and drag the rest of the eurozone into a severe crisis, putting immense pressure on the euro. The problem the bourgeois face is the Greek working class, which is not taking this lying down.

Last week, on March 11, Greece was shaken by an even bigger general strike than on February 24. As the government announced its third austerity package the mood of Greek workers has become one of growing anger and militancy. All the conditions are there for a massive escalation of the conflict.

Yesterday Greece was shaken by a massive 24 hour general strike. In some sectors there was a total walk out, and in industry as a whole 70% of the workers came out. This is the answer of the Greek working class to the government’s severe austerity measures. The task now is to build on this and keep up the pressure to get the whole package withdrawn.

What should a genuine socialist government do in the face of the severe economic and financial crisis that has hit Greece? The only real answer is a socialist programme based on the nationalisation of the banks and the commanding heights of the economy. There is no other way out. [This article was published in the latest issue of the Greek Marxist paper Marxistiki Foni, Marxist Voice, of the Marxists inside the Synaspismos party.]

The crisis of Greek capitalism is clear for all to see. The bosses want draconian economic policies to be implemented, but the workers have already given more than they can afford to give. Bosses and workers are on a collision course as the call for a 24-hour general strike on February 24 clearly demonstrates.

Greek capitalism is in a deep crisis. It is the weak link in the chain and it is beginning to break. The country risks defaulting on its debt repayments, posing a serious threat to the stability of the euro. Severe austerity measures are being imposed and these are provoking a working class backlash.

A major trade union conflict erupted in October in the Piraeus Port Authority, where dockworkers are fighting attempts to destroy all their hard-won rights, of privatisation of the port which is being handed over to COSCO, a Chinese company. After a two week strike they suspended their action awaiting results of negotiation. Now they have taken up strike action again.

The recent elections in Greece saw a massive shift to the left in Greek society, with a total of 56% of the electorate voting for the left parties. The PASOK alone received almost 44%. This is a vote that rejects the austerity measures of the outgoing conservative ND government. The problem is that the PASOK leaders are promising more of the same. For the workers this vote was a victory, but they did not vote for more cuts. This opens the prospect of renewed class struggle in the coming period.

On Thursday, April 2, in Greece there was a general strike. A mood of distrust of the trade union leadership emerged in the discussions with the workers. On the other hand all the workers participating in the demonstrations expressed a desire for an escalation of the struggle.

The huge eruption of youth protests in Greece in December have receded. The key element in explaining this was the role played by the leaders of the main workers' parties, who rather than build up the protest and involve the labour movement as a whole, worked to re-establish calm. Here the Greek Marxists explain the background to how this came about, but also stress the generalised mood of protest is simmering below the surface preparing new social explosions.

The events that have unfolded over the past month in Greece have revealed the immense revolutionary potential that had accumulated below the surface of society. The anger of the youth can only be explained by the severe crisis of capitalism afflicting the country, a reflection of the international economic crisis. And the conditions that exist in Greece are the same that exist across the whole of Europe.

The situation in Greece is growing ever more tense with each hour that passes. Today the country is being rocked by a general strike, while the youth continue to mobilise massively. In this situation the state is exploiting lumpen and ultra-left groups to portray the movement as a crazy violent outburst of criminal elements, but the anger of the Greek workers and youth cannot be calmed with these methods.