Greek workers are at the forefront of resistance to the world’s rulers’ plans to make ordinary people suffer for capitalism’s crisis. The country’s government is pushing through vicious austerity measures at the behest of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Ministers want to cut the budget deficit from over 13 percent to below 3 percent in the next three years.
This means a devastating attack on working people’s living standards. Politicians and the media claim that the Greek people have artificially high standards of living that must be brought down.
But the figures Socialist Worker highlights here expose these lies. Working people across Europe cannot afford to be divided by myths and distortions.
We need united resistance to defeat our governments, and force the rich and the bankers to pay for the economic crisis that they created.
The Greek working class is leading the way and was launching its fifth general strike this year on Thursday of this week.
Its power has repeatedly paralysed the country as hundreds of thousands strike.
“Opposition to pension reform is at the centre of this week’s strike,” Panos Garganas, editor of the Workers Solidarity newspaper in Greece, told Socialist Worker.
“The government is pushing ahead with a bill despite huge opposition. It will raise the retirement age, merge a number of pension funds and reduce the level of pensions. It is a levelling downwards.
“The anger against the government, and European and world leaders, is continuing to grow.”
The general strike will not be the end of the Greek resistance.
“Power workers have said that they will strike for 48 hour periods from Tuesday of next week over pensions,” said Panos.
“And local authority workers are discussing going all-out when the plans to make major cuts in their sector are discussed in parliament.
“Things will only escalate here.”
The cost of living in Greece is one of the highest in Europe. Compare the price of basic foods in a Greek supermarket to those in Britain
|Milk (1 litre)||£1.10||£0.76|
|Yoghurt (1 kilo)||£1.95||£1.80|
Helen Skiada, works for a telecoms firm
‘We have nothing to look forward to. We have no choice but to come out here and fight’
Greece’s rich are among the world’s wealthiest
Kiki Papiliadis, 61 year old pensioner
‘It’s terrible not being able to plan your life. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow’
The government’s plans include three hammer blows against public sector workers wages
The press presents these payments as luxury top-ups but they are crucial for workers’ survival.
Their abolition would mean a 15 percent cuts for some workers.
Together these could mean a 40 percent cut for some workers. Living standards have already dropped by 20 percent so far this year.
Financial markets panic about Greece’s high public debt, and credit rating agencies downgrade its credit rating.
Prime minister George Papandreou announces cuts to public spending and workers’ allowances in a failed attempt to calm the markets. Public sector workers strike on 17 December.
The government sets out three-year plan to reduce the deficit, including wage freezes and an increase in the retirement age.
Huge public sector strikes against the measures.
A general strike of all workers takes place on 24 February, paralysing the country. Tens of thousands of people march in Athens.
Two general strikes rock the country. Sacked Olympic Airlines workers occupy part of the finance ministry in Athens.
Eurozone countries and the IMF commit to provide up to 45 billion euros in loans to Greece. Despite this, unemployment increases to 11.3 percent and its credit rating is downgraded to junk.
The European Union and IMF approve a 110 billion euro deal with even harsher measures.
These include a three-year wages freeze, the loss of bonuses and an increase in VAT. Workers respond with two general strikes. A group of teachers occupied a TV studio (including Dimitra Roupa, pictured left).
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will police the cuts in Greece.
It has already rolled out its austerity programme in other European countries: