Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Solidarity with Greece against capitalist austerity

All flights into and out of Greece have been cancelled as hundreds of thousands of Greeks take to the streets in protest against the austerity measures imposed by the EU to "save" the Greek economy. This follows months of unrest over the same measures, which amount to an attack on the working class there. Public sector pay has been frozen, the retirement age raised, and taxes increased.

According to the BBC;

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens says that for the second time this month, Greece will be isolated from the rest of the world for 24 hours as all flights into and out of the country have been cancelled.

Commuters will be left without most forms of public transport, while public schools, ministries, and municipal offices will be closed. Many hospitals will operate only with emergency staffing.

Archaeological sites, including the Acropolis, will be closed to tourists, chipping away at the country's international image, our correspondent says.

Demonstrations are also being held in Athens and Thessaloniki. Our correspondent, who is at a demonstration attended by at least 20,000 people in the centre of the capital, says the mood is resolute.

The country's two largest trade union groups, the private sector GSEE and the public sector ADEDY, fiercely oppose the government's austerity measures and are predicting a substantial turnout among their two million members.

"The Greek people are well aware that the fiscal situation of the country is in terrible shape... but the measures are not fair," said the head of the GSEE, Yiannis Panagopoulos.

"We demand a fair distribution of the burden so that wage-earners and pensioners do not pay the price for a crisis they did not create." 

That last sentiment should be familiar to workers in Britain and across the world. Greece is not the only place where the working class has been made to shoulder the burden for the crisis of the capitalist class - it is simply the most explicit and devastating example. Greek workers who turn out on the streets deserve our full solidarity. The austerity measures which they now suffer only serve to show that the EU, whatever else it may be, is an organ of international capital and stands against the interests of the workers.

The Greeks need our support and solidarity as they fight this battle, but there needs to be more than this. As I have argued previously, there needs to be a recognition that the struggle ahead is not limited to any one industry or any one community. It crosses sectors and borders. If we are to fight back, we need to do so not within a union, or a business, or a nation, but as a class.

Whatever the nuances of a different century, the old slogan still rings true. We have nothing to lose but our chains. We have a world to win.