Read

Search form

New Strikes In Athens Expose Syriza Government's Efforts to Stifle Resistance

New Strikes In Athens Expose Syriza Government's Efforts to Stifle Resistance
Fri, 2/2/2018 - by Maria Paradia

ATHENS – On Jan. 14, the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) mobilized a 24-hour strike that paralyzed Athens, as public transit worker unions, healthcare professionals and air traffic controllers, among others, joined to protest against the country's upcoming E.U. bailout review and a new series of proposed austerity measures announced by Greece's governing Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza party.

During much of the afternoon, Athens International Airport stood at a standstill with all domestic and international flights halted. In the capital's center, locals zipped to and from work on bicycles as all public transportation in the city and its suburbs ground to a stop. While tens of thousands of protestors gathered in Athens, smaller demonstrations took place across the Greek countryside, and similarly extensive strikes were held the following week – this time with the participation of the powerful sailors union.

The protests brought the number of general strikes held in the Greek capital to 50 since 2010. However, unlike the dozens of strikes before it, last month's protests were a direct – and existential – response to a measure that could end Greek unions' ability to strike in the future.
 

Upholding the Right to Protest

The austerity reforms that provoked the strikes were outlined extensively in a 1,300-page document, which was submitted in December for consideration during Greece's latest talks with its E.U. creditors as it seeks a new 4.5 billion euro bailout. But among a number of alarming proposals in the bill – including a call for online home foreclosure auctions – one stood out in particular:

The reform in question regarded an amendment made to a 1982 law that allowed unions to strike provided that 20 percent of the union's paying members agreed to the strike. The new proposal raised the minimum percentage of required union member support to 50 percent.

To the outrage of many, the Syriza administration was more than happy to oblige Greece's creditors with this measure, effectively putting an end to most strikes and protests held by any one workers union. In blunt terms, the amendment would force the GSEE to either sustain a complete shutdown of the capital, or let smaller unions endure any onerous reforms without the chance to mount a popular response.

More importantly, within the context of Greek law, the wording of the proposed reform doesn't guarantee that union strikes would be legal outside the urban centers of Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, since the more diffuse worker unions in the countryside would by definition be unable to muster the necessary numbers to carry out a "legal" strike.

Giorgos Perros, the lead organizer of one of the January protests and a member of the Greek Communist Party, responded defiantly: "Let them vote for whatever they like. We won't stop."

This latest "reform" proposal coupled with a slew of asset seizures that have taken place since late 2017, when the government made a mad dash to meet its bailout deadline, appears to have finally turned the broader Greek left against Syriza, a party once lauded for bringing the left back to the forefront of Greek politics. Slowly but surely, the party under Alexis Tsipras has managed to alienate those that had once been its more outspoken allies.
 

Retreat Instead of Revolution

According to World Bank estimates, Greece's latest international bond price dropped by 4 percent from its price in 2010. Most economists see this as a result of continual austerity measures set in place by the E.U., which have crippled small business owners and led to a steady rise in unemployment that have only hobbled the country further.

Further, the income gap in Greece has steadily increased, with the middle class shrinking further due to new taxation imposed by the government in an attempt to maintain an already bloated public sector, while cutting public healthcare and education.

Currently, almost half of Greek households are in debt and consumer spending is at an all-time low – making this a less likely moment than ever for Greece to qualify for billions more in financial aid.

Nonetheless, in a much publicized announcement, Klaus Regling, head of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), claimed: “Greece can exit the current aid programme in 10 months and be financed independently through the markets." According to the optimistic ESM timeline, Greece will be able to halt its austerity measures by July 2018. In effect, creditors are arguing that the next bailout package represents the next step to helping the country escape its decade-long financial predicament.

The Greeks' response: We'll believe it when we see it. Until then, if its recent "reforms" are anything to go by, the Syriza administration seems determined to stifle any further resistance to its policies – a position that citizens in the world's oldest democracy may have a hard time accepting.

 

 

Sign Up

Article Tabs

public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, public financing, financing infrastructure, Wall Street influence, private-public investments

Private interests’ influence over banking consumes, rather than sustains, the public good.

Dodd-Frank act, Volcker Rule, bank deregulation, Wall Street lobby, proprietary trading, SEC

By revising the Volcker Rule, a centerpiece of the 2010 Dodd-Frank act, the feds are pushing financial regulation in a direction that should worry everyone.

Poor People's Campaign, protesting poverty, California protests, Moral Mondays

On Monday, the California Poor People's Campaign, calling for affordable housing and other policies to address poverty, interrupted the state Senate and forced legislators to halt the floor session.

occupy, creative activism, activism, act out, lockheed martin, STEM, military education, corporate education, coca-cola, water rights, greenwashing, SLAPP, dissent, silencing dissent, criminalizing dissent, human rights, environmental abuse, corporate

The war machine is now branching out – into early childhood education. Meanwhile, Coke's bogus greenwashing, and how corporations use courts to SLAPP down their opponents.

U.K. wealth inequality, U.K. wealth disparity, U.K. poverty, rising poverty

Shortly after the U.K. fell from being the world's fifth biggest economy, a new report shows that Britain is, in no unvarnished terms, infested with poverty.

public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, public financing, financing infrastructure, Wall Street influence, private-public investments

Private interests’ influence over banking consumes, rather than sustains, the public good.

U.S. Border Patrol agents take into custody a father and son from Honduras near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, near Mission, Texas. The asylum seekers were then sent to a processing center for possible separation. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

A new report confirms that Trump and his advisers had been considering the brutal policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border for as long as they’ve been in power.

Democratic primaries, rigged primaries, Bernie Sanders, establishment Democrats, corporate Democrats, superdelegates, Democratic National Committee

If Democrats want any hope of voting Trump out, they must fix the broken primary system before the next election.

Dodd-Frank act, Volcker Rule, bank deregulation, Wall Street lobby, proprietary trading, SEC

By revising the Volcker Rule, a centerpiece of the 2010 Dodd-Frank act, the feds are pushing financial regulation in a direction that should worry everyone.

Poor People's Campaign, protesting poverty, California protests, Moral Mondays

On Monday, the California Poor People's Campaign, calling for affordable housing and other policies to address poverty, interrupted the state Senate and forced legislators to halt the floor session.

Dodd-Frank act, Volcker Rule, bank deregulation, Wall Street lobby, proprietary trading, SEC

By revising the Volcker Rule, a centerpiece of the 2010 Dodd-Frank act, the feds are pushing financial regulation in a direction that should worry everyone.

Posted 4 days 18 hours ago
public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, public financing, financing infrastructure, Wall Street influence, private-public investments

Private interests’ influence over banking consumes, rather than sustains, the public good.

Posted 18 hours 12 min ago
occupy, creative activism, activism, act out, lockheed martin, STEM, military education, corporate education, coca-cola, water rights, greenwashing, SLAPP, dissent, silencing dissent, criminalizing dissent, human rights, environmental abuse, corporate

The war machine is now branching out – into early childhood education. Meanwhile, Coke's bogus greenwashing, and how corporations use courts to SLAPP down their opponents.

Posted 5 days 17 hours ago
U.K. wealth inequality, U.K. wealth disparity, U.K. poverty, rising poverty

Shortly after the U.K. fell from being the world's fifth biggest economy, a new report shows that Britain is, in no unvarnished terms, infested with poverty.

Posted 6 days 16 hours ago
net neutrality, FCC, Resolution of Disapproval, net neutrality rules, two-tiered internet, internet freedom, Congressional Review Act, net neutrality repeal, Freedom Works, Ajit Pai

"Any lawmaker, of any party, that fails to sign the discharge petition in support of the CRA will regret it come election time."

Posted 6 days 16 hours ago
net neutrality, FCC, Resolution of Disapproval, net neutrality rules, two-tiered internet, internet freedom, Congressional Review Act, net neutrality repeal, Freedom Works, Ajit Pai

"Any lawmaker, of any party, that fails to sign the discharge petition in support of the CRA will regret it come election time."

Poor People's Campaign, protesting poverty, California protests, Moral Mondays

On Monday, the California Poor People's Campaign, calling for affordable housing and other policies to address poverty, interrupted the state Senate and forced legislators to halt the floor session.

Dodd-Frank act, Volcker Rule, bank deregulation, Wall Street lobby, proprietary trading, SEC

By revising the Volcker Rule, a centerpiece of the 2010 Dodd-Frank act, the feds are pushing financial regulation in a direction that should worry everyone.

Democratic primaries, rigged primaries, Bernie Sanders, establishment Democrats, corporate Democrats, superdelegates, Democratic National Committee

If Democrats want any hope of voting Trump out, they must fix the broken primary system before the next election.

U.K. wealth inequality, U.K. wealth disparity, U.K. poverty, rising poverty

Shortly after the U.K. fell from being the world's fifth biggest economy, a new report shows that Britain is, in no unvarnished terms, infested with poverty.