Thousands of Workers in Greece Strike to Protest Austerity

Search form

Thousands of Workers in Greece Strike to Protest Austerity

Thousands of Workers in Greece Strike to Protest Austerity
Thu, 11/7/2013
This article originally appeared on Reuters

Thousands of Greek workers went on strike and marched to the country’s parliament in pouring rain Wednesday to protest against measures austerity imposed by foreign lenders, whose inspectors were in Athens to review the country's bailout.

The 24-hour general walkout by Greece's largest public- and private-sector unions shut schools and disrupted flights – but far fewer people took to the streets compared with previous protests, as heavy downpours hit Athens.

The "troika" of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund inspectors resumed their latest bailout review on Tuesday.

"Enough is enough. We've lost our dignity." said Fotini Halikiopoulou, a 55-year old public sector employee. "We've sacrificed everything and they (the troika) are not budging an inch."

School teachers and doctors as well as municipal and transport workers were among the groups that joined the strike. Air traffic controllers stopped work for three hours, and journalists stopped work for five hours.

But the bleak weather and despondency among Greeks inured to protests against the erosion of jobs and benefits meant the marches largely fizzled, with two unions canceling plans for a coordinated march to parliament because of the rain.

About 15,000 protesters, mainly from the Communist group PAME and leftist parties, rallied at central Syntagma square where police and demonstrators have clashed in the past.

They held banners reading "No more sacrifices," and chanted "Don't bow down!"

Labor unions fear Greece will have to impose further wage and pension cuts to meet its bailout targets in the coming years, union officials said.

Greece and its lenders are at odds over the size of a projected budget hole next year. The unions are also protesting against planned public sector job cuts and privatizations.

"We'll keep fighting," said Stathis Anestis, general secretary of the private-sector union GSEE. "We warn the government that people will not tolerate any more austerity."

Greece is in its sixth year of a recession, and repeated rounds of austerity have squeezed households and sent unemployment to record highs of over 27 percent.

GSEE and public-sector union ADEDY have brought people to the streets repeatedly since the crisis erupted in 2009, with turnout in some demonstrations topping 100,000. The protests have tested the government's will to implement spending cuts and reforms prescribed by the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

But this year protests have been dampened by a growing sense of resignation among Greeks. Still, anger remains high against austerity policies identified with Germany, and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's coalition government has rejected further across-the-board wage and pension cuts or tax increases to fill any budget gaps.

"Society cannot take it, the economy cannot take it, and it is not even required by the country's current financial situation," Samaras said in a television interview Tuesday.

Article Tabs

The new 40-page report published by Oxfam International also said the global fossil fuel sector now receives $1.9 trillion in subsidies each year.

Edward Snowden

Snowden told the audience he engaged in civil disobedience because he believes the democratic system of government is not able to work when people don’t know what their government is doing.

Large corporations are the winners and taxpayers are the losers when transparency, accountability and the public interest are sold out to for-profit firms.

The city's social justice roots are centuries old – and today Seattle is also home to more than 70 social justice organizations and more than a dozen progressive film festivals.

Coinciding with the National Day Against Police Brutality and Mass Incarceration, people in Santa Rosa, Calif., will hold a vigil and community potluck Wednesday to commemorate the teen's tragic death.

“We wanted to take action to dramatize the betrayal of the American people and show that we will resist and attempt to disrupt or at least expose pro-corruption politicians' ability to raise big money.”

Posted 6 days 1 hour ago

Drug and device makers paid doctors $380 million in speaking and consulting fees over a five-month period last year – and saw a healthy return on their investment.

Posted 5 days 28 min ago

As of September 19, 181 institutions and local governments and 656 individuals representing over $50 billion in assets have pledged to divest from fossil fuels.

Posted 5 days 41 min ago

Florida has the highest foreclosure rate in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2014, and also has a "foreclosure king" who is now disbarred for his failure to oversee employees accused of carrying out wrongful foreclosures.

Posted 2 days 2 hours ago

So little of our national wealth is going to feed people or provide jobs and instead, the richest Americans vastly increased their wealth this past year. But what vaulted these individuals to the top?

Posted 6 days 1 hour ago

On Sunday, hundreds of people milled around a protest site in the gentrifying, densely-populated district Mong Kok, manning aid stations and sitting in small circles on the pavement.

As of September 19, 181 institutions and local governments and 656 individuals representing over $50 billion in assets have pledged to divest from fossil fuels.

"Peoples' movements will either succeed in transforming our economic and political systems to build a new world, or we will burn with the old one."

Out of her $672 monthly disability check, Rochelle McCaskill spends $600 rent – leaving her unable to pay the city’s water bills, which have skyrocketed to more than twice the national average.

Survivors of the Sept. 26 violence joined Mexico City protesters in informal campus activities and rallies demanding justice for their missing classmates.

Sign Up