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

India: Nationwide trade union strike hits banks, Noida protests turn violent

Bharat Bandh turns violent in Noida.


Noida, February 20, 2013
[Protesters put a truck on fire during the 2-day trade union strike in Noida.]

A union leader was killed in Haryana and factory units damaged in Delhi suburb Noida in sporadic violence on Wednesday as the start of a two-day nationwide strike called by trade unions evoked a mixed response with banking services paralysed and public transport disrupted. Kerala, Tripura and Bihar were among the worst hit states where normal life was thrown out of gear while stray incidents of violence were reported in Odisha and Karnataka. Protest marches were taken out in several cities.Flight and rail operations remained unaffected in the strike called by 11 trade unions against UPA’s economic and alleged anti-labour policies.

Reports from state capitals said financial services were crippled and bus commuters faced difficulties.

In Noida Phase 2 area, workers clashed with factory owners in a hosiery complex and set ablaze vehicles prompting authorities to deploy PAC in the area. Workers went on a rampage and damaged industrial properties, police said.

From Sector 82 till Greater Noida entry point, which is the industrial belt, workers set ablaze a car, bus and a fire engine, police said.

“People just barged in, looted everything in sight and even tore our registers,” an industrialist said while another said every single building in the hosiery complex had their windows broken and many vehicles were set on fire. Continue reading

India: Revolutionary Trade Unions’ Call for General Strike


S-21/E-42, Indira Kalyan Vihar, Okhla Phase I, New Delhi 110020
PRESS STATEMENT,  19.02.2013:  Observe the Two Day Countrywide Strike on 20-21 February 2013!”

All the central trade unions have come together to call a two-day countrywide strike on 20 and 21 February 2013 in order to demand the fulfilment of a number of pressing issues connected to the lives of the workers and employees in both the organised and unorganised sectors. DGMF is aware that most of these trade unions are affiliated to the same parliamentary parties in power – whether at the centre or in various states – which are directly responsible for implementing anti-worker and anti-people policies. These political parties and their trade unions have repeatedly sacrificed the interests of the working masses of the country without batting an eyelid. In fact, all the parliamentary parties in the country today stand exposed as the agents and the representatives of foreign and domestic big capitalists.

The central trade unions have never seriously challenged the pro-imperialist policies of their mother parties. So to call a two-day strike upholding the rights of the workers is nothing but an eyewash – a move to hoodwink the toiling masses. It is out of popular pressure that these unions had to call a protest action in the form of the strike. The demands articulated by the two-day strike, however, are genuine demands of the workers themselves. DGMF therefore extends its solidarity to the workers’ strike and calls upon the working people of the country to observe the two-day strike. Without being a part of the grand alliance of ruling-class and revisionist trade unions, DGMF along with other revolutionary trade unions of the country has independently issued a strike call for 20 and 21 February 2013, and will strive to successfully implement the strike.

In solidarity,

Rash Behari

President, DGMF


General Secretary, DGMF


As government, creditors near deal on further austerity, Greek unions hold new general strike

A man eats a meal from a soup kitchen organized by the Church of Greece in Athens, on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, which has been designated International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Greece is in the throes of an economic depression that has seen the economy shrink by a fifth over the past five years, while unemployment is at 25 percent, the highest in decades. The crisis has caused a major rise in homelessness, while the number of people depending on soup kitchens for sustenance has rocketed. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

NICHOLAS PAPHITIS,  Associated Press, October 18, 2012

ATHENS, Greece — Labor unions in recession-hobbled Greece are holding another general strike against a new harsh austerity program, as European leaders beset by a deep debt crisis and economic stagnation gather for a summit meeting in Brussels.

Thursday’s strike is set to close down public services and severely hamper most forms of transport — with even taxi drivers joining in for nine hours — while shopkeepers in Athens and other cities are planning to shut down for the day. It is the second general strike in less than a month.

Unions are organizing two separate marches in central Athens. Demonstrators’ ire will focus on the new belt-tightening for 2013-14, demanded by bailout creditors to release a desperately needed new rescue loan payment.

The city has seen hundreds of anti-austerity protests — many violent — over the past three years, since Greece revealed it had been misreporting key deficit figures and sank into an economic gloom so deep it has been likened to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The country is clinging to solvency with the help of two massive international bailouts worth a total €240 billion ($315 billion). To secure them, it committed to drastic spending cuts, tax hikes and reforms, aimed to cure years of profligate government spending.

But while significantly reducing budget deficits, the measures accelerated a recession that after five years is closer to a depression. By the end of next year, the economy is expected to have shrunk by about a quarter from 2008 levels. And with one in four workers out of a job, Greece has the worst unemployment rate in the 27-nation European Union.

“In general, we’re going from bad to worse,” said 85-year-old pensioner Giorgos Ierodimos. “Salaries are being reduced, pensions are being reduced, everything is getting more expensive, from food to health care to hospitals, medicines, everything. So how will people live? How will we live?” Continue reading

Spain burns as strikes bring nation to its knees

Nine injured and scores are arrested as austerity protest descends into violence

by Alasdair Fotheringham, The Independent (UK)

Friday, 30 March 2012 — A nationwide general strike fuelled by a groundswell of anger against crippling unemployment levels and severe ongoing austerity cuts culminated in dozens of large-scale evening demonstrations across Spain yesterday.

Approximately a quarter of a million protesters took to the streets in Barcelona, with some fringe groups attacking police vans and smashing shop windows until late into the evening. In contrast Madrid’s almost equally large demonstration, where the crowds of chanting, whistling protestors filled the emblematic Puerto del Sol square and surrounding streets to bursting point, was reported as being totally peaceful.

“There’s lots of people here, but we need even more, this country is going through an awful situation and its going to get worse,” young protester Luis Ferrer, on the dole for three months, told The Independent in Madrid’s demonstration.

“If we don’t make ourselves heard now, we never will. I don’t think we’re going to end up like Greece, but they’re using this recession to take away our rights as workers.It’s just an excuse.”

“The labour reforms they want to bring in are terrible and our wages are awful,” Jose, a protestor in his twenties, added. “They want us to work more and more, put up taxes too and that’s just not on.” Continue reading

Greece: Strike wave builds toward 48 hours general strike

Greek strike wave grows ahead of austerity vote

ATHENS, Greece, October 17, 2011 – Greek railway workers and journalists joined ferry crews, garbage collectors, tax officials and lawyers on Tuesday in a strike blitz against yet more austerity measures required if the country is to avoid defaulting on its debts.

The protests will lead into a general strike over the coming two days, culminating on Thursday when Parliament holds a crucial vote on the new painful cutbacks that follow nearly two years of austerity. A similar strike before an austerity bill in June was accompanied by large protest marches which degenerated into street battles between rioters and police.

The highly unpopular new measures include further pension and salary cuts, the suspension on reduced pay of 30,000 public servants out of a total of more than 750,000 and the suspension of collective labor contracts. Continue reading

Athens: Fighting outside parliament on eve of Greece’s austerity vote


ReutersVideo on Jun 28, 2011


By Daniel Howden in Athens,

June 28 - Demonstrators clash with riot police as Greece braces for austerity cutbacks.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011–Athens was rocked by a day of street battles yesterday on the eve of a critical vote on austerity measures demanded of Greece if the country is to avoid a potential disaster.

The escalating confrontation between people and political leaders, expected to resume today, has stoked fears of a banking and eurozone crisis that some analysts are equating with a “second credit crunch”.

A day that began with a peaceful show of force from Greece’s unions quickly descended into running battles between masked youths and riot police outside parliament yesterday.

With much of the country at a standstill thanks to a general strike and rolling power cuts, Greek MPs will vote later today on a package of austerity measures which are seen as essential by much of the rest of Europe but are unpopular in the country itself.

The Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos said that tanks may have to be sent into the streets to stem the chaos if the bill fails to pass and a run on Greek banks begins. Continue reading

Greece: A revolutionary writes on the current situation

Dear international friends and comrades,

For years, the workers and the people of Greece have expressed in every available occasion their wrath against the anti-people policies of the governments (both right-wing and social-democrat). Since May 25th there is a new situation. The people of Greece are making politics with their presence in the squares of the big cities, every day and more significantly whenever a mass demonstration is organized on a concrete issue.
The last general strike was on May 11th and the police attacked and injured a lot of workers. Two weeks later a new movement was launched in the squares of the big cities. It was the way to surpass the obstacles set by the sold out trade union leaderships and the inadequate left forces in the country. Continue reading

The Los Angeles Times: “Greek general strike protests austerity measures”

The protest occurs as experts from the European Union and International Monetary Fund assess proposed new austerity steps, including a third wave of tax increases and a sell-off of state assets.

May 11, 2011|By Anthee Carassava, Los Angeles Times

Ancient Greeks coined the word “austerity.” Modern Greeks are resenting it.

Waving red flags and toting colorful placards, thousands of workers walked off the job Wednesday, pouring onto the streets of Athens and other Greek cities to challenge a new rash of proposed reforms and cost-cutting measures designed to save the cash-strapped country $33 billion through 2015.

In Athens, about 30,000 protesters marched outside the nation’s parliament building, jeering lawmakers and calling them “thieves” and “robbers.” Some youths clashed with riot police, pelting them with stones, water bottles and oranges.

Police responded by firing several rounds of tear gas and pepper spray. At least a dozen demonstrators injured during about 15 minutes of mayhem were rushed to hospitals, as tourists and bystanders scattered in panic. The acrid smell of the tear gas lingered over the capital for hours after what authorities called a “timid” demonstration overall.

The 24-hour general strike, the country’s second this year, was organized by Greece’s two biggest labor unions as senior experts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund began assessing a new austerity package, including a third wave of tax increases and a sweeping sell-off of state assets.

“These are barbarous policies that are driving workers and society into poverty for the benefit of bankers and creditors,” said a statement from the ADEDY public-sector umbrella union. “They must not pass.”

Despite widespread discontent, the demonstration drew smaller, more sober crowds compared with the violent demonstrations in the capital last year. Participants Wednesday included jobless factory workers, women pushing baby carriages and students. Minor scuffles erupted, underscoring the high level of volatility in Greece, Portugal and Ireland, Eurozone countries making large cuts in services through austerity programs.

A year after clinching a $146-billion bailout from the EU and the IMF, Greece has slipped far behind slated fiscal targets, fanning market speculation that the debt-racked country will default, or require some sort of debt restructuring or even a new deal with its international creditors.

The German weekly Der Spiegel last week published an online report saying that Greece’s debt woes were so grave that Athens was contemplating ditching the euro currency.

The report — published as key Eurozone officials met in Luxembourg to brainstorm over contingency plans for Greece’s debt crisis — was knocked down by Athens as a joke. The government has since conceded the inevitable: that it wants more money and more time to climb out of its debt crisis because the prospects of gaining access to international markets next year look bleak.

As Greece’s grim-faced finance minister, George Papaconstantinou, put it on his return from the Luxembourg talks, “The markets continue to disbelieve our country.”

Like Ireland and Portugal, Greece is insolvent. And while the Socialist government succeeded in cutting the country’s deficit by about a third last year, the shortfall still hovers at 10.5% of gross domestic product, the second highest in the 27-member EU. Tax collection, according to the Finance Ministry, has also slumped 9.2%, and a much-vaunted privatization plan has yet to begin for a slew of state companies, including the Public Power Corp., the country’s former energy monopoly.

What’s more, many pundits and politicians say, crisis fatigue has set in and the government has lost its chutzpah.

“We must not lose any more time,” Health Minister Andreas Loverdos warned this week, siding with European officials and economists long critical of the government’s flagging pace of reforms. “We have to fight harder; there is no room for mixed policy messages.”

A flurry of polls published in recent weeks signaled fading support for the Socialists. One survey commissioned by the private Mega TV network showed 71% of respondents opposing the government’s handling of the crisis, with 60.3% supporting renegotiation of the country’s bailout deal. About one in four said the government should scrap the rescue program and abandon the euro.

“Austerity, austerity, austerity,” lamented Maria Martaki as she marched through the streets of Athens on Wednesday. “That’s all we’ve endured with the euro. Enough!”

Carassava is a special correspondent.

Separatist strike shuts much of Indian-run Kashmir

By Aijaz Hussain Associated Press / February 11, 2011

SRINAGAR, India—Shops and businesses shut and road traffic was thin Friday across the Indian portion of Kashmir in response to a strike call by separatist groups to honor a pro-independence leader executed by India more than 25 years ago.

Police and paramilitary soldiers set up road checkpoints and banned assembly of more than four people to prevent protests in the Himalayan region, said a police officer on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Thousands of armed troops patrolled streets in Srinagar, the main city in Indian Kashmir, and other towns, while most public transport also stayed off the roads and the attendance was sparse in government offices. Continue reading

Egypt Opposition movement calls for “march of millions” on Tuesday in a bid to topple president Hosni Mubarak

”]al Jazeera, 31 Jan 2011

Egyptian protesters have called for a massive demonstration and a rolling general strike on Tuesday in a bid to force out president Hosni Mubarak from power.

Our producer in Egypt reports on the latest developments

The so-called April 6 Movement said it plans to have more than one million people on the streets of the capital Cairo, as anti-government sentiment reaches a fever pitch.

The call came as Mubarak swore in a new cabinet in an attempt to defuse ongoing demonstrations across the country.

But opposition groups say personnel changes will not placate them and have said they will continue until the president steps down.

“The whole regime must come down,” Hassan, a construction worker and protester told the Reuters news agency.


“We do not want anyone from Mubarak’s retinue in the new government, which the people will choose. We want a civil government run by the people themselves.” Continue reading