Greek workers strike on 20 February

Submitted by Matthew on 13 February, 2013 - 6:55

On 20 February the Greek trade union federations GSEE and ADEDY have called for a 24-hour general strike.

The strike is against the government’s move to abolish general coverage of industrial collective bargaining agreements. The unions call for a new national general collective bargaining agreement after the current one expires on 30 March.

The decision to strike was taken on 31 January. January was dominated by the nine-day strike of the subway workers over wages, and the government’s use of “civil mobilisation orders” to order the strikers back to work.

Other transportation workers struck in solidarity, and were subsequently threatened with civil mobilisation orders. There have been rolling strikes by ferry workers and shipyard workers. Farmers have erected barricades and blocked roads to protest against the abrupt increases in their costs.

Media workers have struck against the abolition of collective bargaining agreements,. Health care workers have struck against the closing down and merging of hospitals. A metal factory has been taken over by its workers, who are now running under self-organisation and workers’ control.

In a 24-hour strike on 31 January thousands of striking hospital workers from all around Greece filled the streets of Athens. Simultaneously, hundreds of subway workers wearing shirts saying “conscripted worker”, and other transportation workers, marched on the Ministry of Finance.

The two marches joined and met with the hundreds gathered outside the court, mainly members of the Communist Party protesting against the arrests of trade unionists who had been arrested because they occupied the Ministry of Labour the previous day.

In Piraeus, all 23 first-level trade unions, aligned with different streams of the left, marched alongside the sailors and ferry workers unions in one of the biggest demonstrations in the city.

All this could be the beginning of a new escalation of strikes, protests, sit-ins, and occupations.

The blue bus drivers have a new general meeting on 14 February.The subway and other transportation workers are preparing to break the “civil mobilisation” orders.

Municipal workers are mobilising against the privatisation of local government services. Public sector workers are ready to fight against partial lay-offs (“reserve employment”) and redundancies.

Students and academics are preparing a new wave of strikes and occupations against the merging and closing down of universities and departments.

The coalition government has responded with an escalation of authoritarianism.

The struggle should be escalated with the 24 hour general strike of 20 February and continued. In every workplace it is imperative to organise meetings, discussions and assemblies. It is imperative to form strike committees to organise the strike in every workplace and to involve the maximum of number in the strike demo on 20 February.

Each strike committee should organise its workplace to participate on 20 February strike but also organise the struggles and strikes before and after 20 February in coordination and cooperation with other strike committees.

The workers need an answer to why they have recently “lost” battles and the three party coalition government is not overthrown.

Rank and file trade unionists and the most advanced class conscious workers alongside the Left need to address the chronic intrinsic weaknesses of the labor movement, the absence of programmatic unity, of a plan of action. They need to combat the illusions that problems can be addressed in a strictly fragmented and sectional way.

It should be made apparent that the only way to get rid of the memoranda is via a political solution — a government of the united left, dialectically linked to the struggles of the trade union movement and community movements, as a first step to achieve workers’ power and control.

It is imperative to explain that the government’s resort to measures like civil mobilisation orders comes from its inability to offer the workers and other popular strata any positive narrative.

In order for a massive mobilisation of workers, unemployed, and young people to be achieved on 20 February, we need the local organisations of the Left parties, apart from their visits to workplaces, also to organise before 20 February joint actions, pickets and open assemblies in their neighbourhoods, alongside the neighbourhood committees.

It requires occupations of public spaces, public buildings and roads in the days before 20 February strike, to give the best message for coordination and escalation of struggles.

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