The 48th general strike of October 19-20 has been by far the most successful strike in Greece since the fall of the dictatorship in 1974. It was the first time since many many years that private sector had a huge participation in a labor mobilization. And nobody I asked can remember any other day of action where so many shops and small business were closed or so many middle class people got in the streets. The success of the 48h strike is an unquestionable proof that Papandreou government has lost any social consensus. This is a clinically dead government which still remains in office due to the institutional framework, despites the real balance of power in the society.
The austerity bill was finally voted by 153 socialists MPs. Louka Katseli, former minister and close friend of Papandreou, refused to vote article 34 which in reality abolishes collective labor agreements and promotes individual negotiation between employers and employees. She was immediately thrown out of the PASOK parliamentarian group. In addition to that, a significant number of PASOK trade unionists have left the party, par example in the railway. Since the inauguration of the austerity plan, one and a half year ago, 5 socialist MP’s have been expelled from the party for refusing to vote several austerity bills.
October 20 rally in Syntagma square was marked by fierce clashes between Communist Party militants and anarchists. Communist Party occupied the upper part of Syntagma square, just in front of the Parliament. Its “service d’ ordre” didn’t allow anyone else to pass, even trade unions which are in the front line of resistance against austerity plan. The anarchists tried to break the communist blockade in a totally unproportionally violent way, communists reacted, and the whole thing exploded in violent clashes between demonstrators. Although KKE (Communist Party) considers itself as an “owner” of the movement and many demonstrators got angry with the blockade in front of the Parliament, there can be no moral and political excuses for the anarchists who attacked communists with petrol bombs and stones. Blood is not water, human beings are not replaceable.
During the rally, Dimitris Kotzaridis, trade unionist of PAME (sectarian KKE trade unions) died from heart attack. He had no wounds, but we are still waiting for the toxicological tests to come out, in order to see if tear gas had had to do anything with his death. Anyway, Kotzaridis was a militant who died fighting for a better world and he will always be remembered for that.
Although clashes between demonstrators are a real setback for the movement, the general political picture is not changed. Greece is a country falling into the abyss of default, working people’s lives are ruined, government is a “dead man walking”, and everything can explode in anytime.
Yannis Almpanis 23/10/11