Greeks in fresh general strike against austerity

BBC News, 20 February 2013

A demonstrator tries to pass a riot police cordon during a strike in Athens (20 Feb 2013)

Tens of thousands of Greeks are taking part in the first general strike of 2013, as workers renew their protest over austerity measures.

Crowds marched towards parliament in Athens, beating drums and blowing whistles as part of the 24-hour strike.

Minor clashes broke out at one stage when police fired tear gas at hooded youths throwing stones.

The strike has been called by Greece’s two biggest trade unions, representing half the four million-strong workforce.

“We are protesting about pensions, emergency taxes, the high cost of life,” retired factory worker Kyriakos Anastassiadis told the Associated Press.

The strike shut schools and left hospitals with emergency staffing. Domestic flights and long-distance train services were cancelled.

Ilias Iliopoulos, secretary-general of Adedy public sector union, said the strike was an attempt to “get rid of the bailout deal”.

“A social explosion is very near,” he said. Continue reading

Grassroots politics flourish in Greek turmoil

As politicians become embroiled in massively unpopular “austerity measures”, protesters find creative avenues of change.
 17 Jun 2011
Police fought with protesters attempting to gather in the grounds of Greece’s parliament building as the country’s largest trades union called a 24-hour general strike [GALLO/GETTY]

Few people would want to be in the shoes of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou these days. Faced with an ostensible mutiny in the ruling social-democrat PASOK party, his worries have been exacerbated by the appearance of an unprecedented, continuous wave of protests in the streets of Athens by thousands of people – who had never demonstrated until a few weeks ago.

Since May 25, 2011, Greece has entered a period of spectacular turmoil, with thousands of people taking over the central squares of its major cities. What happened?

The €110 billion ($157 billion) Memorandum of Agreement signed between the Greek government and the troika of the IMF, the EU and the ECB in May 2010 was met by much weaker dissent than many had expected. This is, after all, the country that, as recently as December 2008, saw a spectacular youth uprising in reaction to the police killing of 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. Continue reading