Thursday, 27 September 2012

General strike

Yesterday's general strike in Greece brought the whole country to a standstill: flights were grounded, air-traffic controllers walked off the job for three hours, ships stayed docked, public transport was disrupted and all public services were shut down. Schools were shut, shops pulled the shutters down and hospitals were operating with emergency staffing levels only. Nothing was open, nothing was working.

According to police figures - and we know how much they underestimate - over 200,000 people took to the streets in protest against the new austerity measures that are to be imposed by the coalition government, under the Troika's instructions. The public sector unions put the figure closer to 350,000.

The coalition government will make the final decision for an austerity package that will lead to a total 11.9 billion euro reduction in public spending, more than 5% of the country's GDP.

The austerity package will amongst others include:
  • a slashing in social spending, including reductions in family benefits, special unemployment benefits for seasonal workers and other benefits that include funding of travel expenses for patients going for dialysis
  • new cuts in pensions and public sector wages
  • a massive wave of privatisations
  • cuts in health spending at a time when Greece is getting close to a humanitarian crisis
  • reduced funding for the Arts
  • massive cuts in education spending

90% of Greeks believe that the planned cuts are unfair and a burden to the poor.

I now want to post some photographs of the demonstration, photographs showing what the day was like, and not just of the last hour or so when violence errupted

A festive atmosphere and one of solidarity

wanting to be heard

some managed to reach Syntagma

a pun - a play on the words 'we are on strike'  and  'we are unemployed' . Wearing black armbands

'civilisation' written on the coffin: artists and intellectuals protesting against the cuts in arts funding

I have mentioned before  the role of a few dogs who never miss a demonstration and were always present during the Indignants' gatherings last year

Alexis Tsipras of SY.RIZ.A

demonstrators in the county of Ileia

Athens again

Some people believe that only the young go on demonstrations and then they cause 'trouble'

in Rhodes

On the right, the fence the government had erected all around the Parliament building and in the middle a disabled person trying to talk to the police - reports are coming in that disabled people were pushed and shoved by the MAT (the riot police) who used their shields against them when they demonstrated outside Parliament today

and then there were some skirmishes and the police started on the tear gas - as they did to their own colleagues last week who were protesting against cuts in their own salaries

and the atmosphere became toxic

and people started panicking

and they got upset

and demonstrators were hurt - this photograph was sent to me last night: it is the arm of the friend of a friend who was beaten by a MAT officer

and protesters lit fires as this is the only way to make tear gas disperse.

                                                               *  *  *

And my question is this: are all these hundreds of people 'troublemakers' as they are labelled by the media? Were the people who demonstrated in Madrid the day before also troublemakers? Were the people in Portugal last week troublemakers?

is she a troublemaker? (Madrid)

Is she? (Athens)

Is he? (Athens)

Is he? (Madrid)

Or are they just people in despair, who cannot bear the yoke of austerity anymore? Who cannot bear to see the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? Who cannot make ends meet, who cannot afford to pay the rent, to put food on the table, to buy medicines, to safeguard a future for their children? People who have lost their jobs, their homes, their hopes for the future?

How are these people going to make themselves heard? They protested peacefully last year, under the name of the Indignants, and did anything change? Where is this going to end?

Sources: Athens News
               The Guardian
                StopCartel TV-GR

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