StopCartel TV broadcasts live from Athens, Greece weeknights @ 6 pm Athens time. The following post is a loose transcript of the 24 September 2012 broadcast.
By greydogg and snake arbusto, 99GetSmart
Greece’s two largest umbrella unions, GSEE and ADEDY, have organized a nationwide 24-hour strike that will take place on Wednesday 26 September 2012 to protest a new round of austerity measures that the government-of-the-regime is preparing to pass through Parliament. The new package includes further cuts to public sector salaries, pensions, benefits, education and health care spending.
In Athens, GSEE and ADEDY will gather in Pedion tou Areos Park in the morning before marching to Syntagma Square in front of Parliament. The Communist Party-affiliated union PAME will be holding its own rally at Omonia Square.
The streets and squares will be filled with people from all walks of life and businesses across the country will be closed. The government-of-the-regime must not be allowed to pass another round of crushing anti-labor measures.
From StopCartel’s Giorgos Kosmopoulos:
The new measures will leave nothing standing.
The coalition government has completely negated its election promises to renegotiate and disengage from the terms of the Memorandum. Instead, they are promoting a new package of austerity measures. Cuts totaling 11.9€ billion, which will eventually balloon to 22€ billion, will undoubtedly level what’s left of society and the economy.
The new package of austerity measures includes:
- New huge reductions in wages and pensions.
- An increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67.
- Reduce employers’ insurance contributions by 5%.
- Establish more flexible working hours, making layoffs easier and cheaper for employers.
- Reduction or elimination of social and welfare benefits (EKAS [aid to pensioners], family, disabled, large families, etc.)
- Remove or merge hundreds of public entities
- Firings and layoffs in the public sector, for a reduction of 150,000 employees by 2015.
- Mergers-closures of hospitals, schools, and kindergartens
- Suspension of recruitment and hiring in the public sector
- Drastically reduced public expenditure on education, health care and pharmaceuticals
- New measures imposed at the expense of the lower classes by increasing taxes and eliminating social tax deductions and exemptions
The previous austerity measures have led to widespread despair throughout the country. The new measures will continue to plunge society and the economy into a death spiral. Already, the Troika’s austerity policies have led to higher unemployment levels than the postwar era, at 24-25%. If the same policies are actualized, unemployment is expected to reach 28% to 30% in 2012 and will shoot up to 34% by 2013.
Massive layoffs have become widespread. Youth unemployment has surpassed 55%, including thousands with postgraduate degrees. Many young people are either seeking jobs abroad or are dependent on their parents, who are most likely among the hundreds of thousands of people who have exhausted their finances due to unemployment or reduced wages and pensions.
Wages in the public and private sectors have declined dramatically, subjected to cuts of 20 to 40%. Pensions and unemployment benefits have vanished. The survival of workers, pensioners and the unemployed ranges from very difficult to impossible.
Industrial relations and collective bargaining agreements have been nullified and then fully redrafted to benefit the employer. Employees’ rights have been discarded in favor of turning workers into modern-day slaves at the whim of employers.
The public and social wealth of the country is slated for sale at devalued prices, which will deprive Greece of the indispensable tools necessary for development, productive reconstruction and recovery. The divestiture of public enterprises and infrastructure is an issue of national and social importance. The barter of public assets is a political crime, fundamentally undermining the very development and future of the country.
Decreases in salaries and pensions coupled with an enormous tax burden placed squarely on the backs of workers and pensioners have threatened citizens with the repossession of even their primary residences if they don’t pay emergency taxes which amount to three and four months’ salary. Hundreds of thousands of borrowers are ‘drowning in debt.’ The cuts in salaries and pensions as well as the unprecedented unemployment have made it impossible to service their loans.
Workers, the unemployed, pensioners, professionals, small and medium farmers, and youth have experience the total reversal of labor, wages, social security, and social and democratic rights over the last two and a half years. Despair, hopelessness, depression, and suicides have become elements of everyday life for the newly poor. If implemented, the new measures will drive people into full crisis mode and plunge the country further into economic decline with no recovery in sight.
The government-of-the-regime is assisted by a complicit media who use fear to marginalize the radical left and trade-union movement in their efforts to prevent and repress social reactions. Repeated threats of police violence are used to discourage people from participating in the social struggle.
Pogroms against the poor and destitute immigrants are indulged as a weapon to divide the working class by turning the poor against the poorest. The government-of-the-regime even uses the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party as a political power reserve to disorient and manipulate people’s emotions.
The radical Left continues to receive heavy attacks from the political and economic establishment as the main force propelling the resistance movement. The coalition, however, has not convinced the people. Its authoritarianism, lies and intimidation cannot disguise the fact that the measures being promoted will drive the country into social ruin.
The only real fear of the coalition government-of-the-regime and the Troika is the people’s reaction to the ferocity of the new package of austerity measures.
This year’s successful mobilization at the Thessaloniki International Fair on September 8 was the starting point for the public to embrace and win a new cycle of struggle against the anti-people policies of the coalition government and the Troika.
If the unemployed, workers, pensioners, and young men and women come together in unity to participate in a massive and militant general strike on September 26, with a planned escalation, the government-of-the-regime can be forced to cancel the new package of destructive measures.
The cooperation of forces from the Left can create conditions that will lead to a victorious outcome of the people’s struggles.
The first order of business for SYRIZA, KKE, ANTARSYA and other forces of the radical Left is to block the passage of the new package of austerity measures and to insist on a new referendum election so that the people’s voices can be heard.
The forces of the Left can and must, without delay, call for unity and a popular uprising for:
- Cancellation of the Memorandum and the applicable laws.
- Cancellation of abusive loan contracts
- Removal of most of the debt
- Nationalization – socialization of bank
- Redistribution of wealth through a fair tax system that will give relief to the working classes and crack down on wealthy tax cheats
- Support for salaries, pensions, unemployment benefits and promotion of measures to tackle unemployment
- The defense and recovery of public property
- Protection and enhancement of public health, education, social security and welfare
- Elimination of the government’s authoritarianism and the far-Right racist and Fascist threat
- Production, development and reconstruction with a priority of creating new jobs.
The differences between the Left’s forces are real and respected, especially as regards European affairs. But there is a common policy and programmatic foundation, one which prioritizes the survival of the people and will not succumb to the dominant blackmail.
It is a historical mistake for the leadership of the Left to highlight their differences and to reproduce sterile and meaningless civil quarrels at this critical moment, compromising the future of the people and the country.
There is a great political responsibility here. If new measures are passed, they will likely transform popular consciousness into a bleak climate of political and social frustration, which will jeopardize the role or even the existence of a strong Left.
Tomorrow at 12:00 noon, Athens time, StopCartel TV will broadcast LIVE from Syntagma Square @ http://www.livestream.com/stopcarteltvgr