Posts Tagged ‘EU’

Greece: crisis deepening, resistance continues

April 23, 2010

The financial crisis in Greece  is deepening. At the same time,  workers’ struggles  are continuing against the austerity policies that the government is imposing.

Signs of deepening crisis are not hard to find. Today, the Greek government asked for financial support. Such aid has been made possible by an IMF/EU program. Greece “had hoped  that just the promise of EU support, agreed last months, would have been enough to reassure markets andhelp its recovery.”  That hope proved an illusion.

The trigger for this decision was more financial trouble for the Greek state. Yesterday, a “worse-than-expected budget deficit of 13.6 percent” was made public. “The moment has come”, thus spoke prime minister Papandreou, announcing his decision to ask for financial aid.

This means that the financial disaster is far from over. It also means that the austerity policies imposed on the population of the country, are not sufficient to restore the confidence of financial insitutions on the international market in the Greek state and its policies.In fact, they are saying: we want more austerity! In the meantime,there is already far more austerity than the workers in Greece are willing and able to stand passively. This means that the clash between what capital demands and what workers are prepared to take is only deepening.

This same week, the resistance of workers against these policies has again become clear. T Yeterday, Thursday , April 22, there was a public sector strike. “Doctors, nurses, teachers, tax officials and dockers stopped work, paralyzing public services, while thousands are expcte to march to parliament at midday as European and IMF officials meet.” A civil servant, quoted by Reuters, explains: “We won’t tolerate any more measures because we cannot make ends meet. I have a mortgage, two children. I have cut down on every luxury. Why don’t they catch those who stle the money? Is my salary or my mother’s pension of 300 Euros going to save the country?”

Taxikipali, reporting on Libcom.org, has more on this strike and on strikes that had been announced for the week that is now ending: by taxi drivers,  amongst others. Taxikipali writes that “another strike wave is on the rise in greece.” I can only hope this wave will grow higher and will wash the government and its policies away. In the meantime, taxikipali’s reports are, and will likely remain, an important source of information and inspiration from Greece in the tense days and weeks to come.

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Greece: class battles

February 11, 2010

From all the countries of Europe, Greece is probably the most unstable. And it’s a kind of instability that brings hope to workers and their allies. There are strikes and demonstration, again and again. Workers are protesting aginst severe austerity policies, imposed by the Greek goverment, at the behest of Greek and international capital (1).

For instance, yesterday: a big strike in public services. Schools, air traffic, other services wer  brought to a halt for the day. BBC has a report. Bu there was more action than this public sector action. Libcom.com mentions strikes held by an Communist Party-affiliated union in parts of the private sector. There has also been strike action held by autonomous unions. building workers, telecom workers and lift elevator employees were involved in both these strike initiatives.

The austerity policies imposed by the government are quite draconic. A wage freeze for public employees, a higher age of retirement, higher taxes on gasoline, alcohol and tobacco. Only one in 5 civil servants who leaves will be replaced. All this is supposedly necessary to bring public debt and the deficit – 12,7 per cent – under control, to fulfill demands made by the US, of which Greece is a member. High debts and deficits mean that tge Greek government has to pay high interest when borrowing money. There are doubts that the greek state will be able to pay the moneyback, doubts wicht make the financial  wordl quite nervous.

But public debt and defiits are not made by the workers who are now ‘asked’ to pay for them. Even now, the government spends money on ridiculous, sometimes openly anti-social things. Libcom.org mentions examples: a new website forthe Forestry Department, for the price of 1,6 million euros.  Bigger money: 6 warships, to be bougt in France, for the price of 2,5 billion euros.

The money is clearly there. But the Greek government thinks that preparation for war is a priority, more important than keeping up workers’ living standard (no  surprise there), and more important than controlling public spending. If they continue with their attacks on the working class, they may get their war sooner rather than later. But in that prticular war, even the biggest battleships will be of little use.

(1) An interesting piece on the Greek social and economic crisis can be readat Socialistworker.org: “Europan capitalism’s weak link?”, written by ntonis Davenellos, member of one of the Trotskyist organisations in Greece.