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Coalition on the edge as new strikes hit Greece

By: 
Panos Garganas

July 17, 2013

Workers across Greece joined a general strike on Tuesday of this week as the government prepares to face two crucial votes in parliament. This is the 27th general strike since the austerity attacks began. But there’s a difference. This time the strike will be televised, as workers in the state broadcaster ERT will celebrate one month under workers’ control on the same day.

The workers have been occupying since the government tried to shut down the company and sack them. Local government workers are on all-out strike, and have been occupying town halls against attempts to sack them. Teachers, shipping workers and others held marches against the sackings throughout last week. And workers from across the public and private sectors walked out on Tuesday. They were set to rally in the capital Athens as Socialist Worker went to press.

The government has been trying to push through mass sackings—effectively ending permanent employment in the sector—for several years. But strikes keep stopping it. Yet Greece’s “Troika” of international creditors—the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund—insists the cuts must be driven through.

Bailout
If the Greek government doesn’t get the sackings agreed in parliament by Friday of this week the German government will withhold Greece’s next instalment of bailout money. The Greek government’s majority has fallen to three MPs after the Democratic Left walked out of the coalition rather than face down ERT workers. The second coalition party, the Labour-type Pasok, is struggling too.

Its leader Evangelos Venizelos toured Crete, traditionally a Pasok stronghold to boost morale. But he was heckled and had water bottles thrown at him. A planned meeting in the regional capital Hania had to be moved to the suburbs.

Now Pasok MPs are wondering how to justify themselves to their voters if they back yet another agreement with the Troika. If just a few of them rebel the government will lose the vote. The government has already delayed the vote to try and bolster its support. But even if the government survives this vote it has to pass a bill on the future of ERT.

Not long ago the official propaganda was that austerity was helping Greece’s economy to recover. But this isn’t working—and it isn’t only the far left that is saying so. Now it’s official. A recent report from the IMF admits that the economy has shrunk three times as much as it predicted—and is set to shrink again next year.

Greece’s government is caught between a new wave of workers’ struggle and a continuing economic crisis. It is entirely on the cards that it could fall.
 
Panos Garganas is editor of Workers Solidarity, Socialist Worker's sister paper in Greece. This article is republished from Socialist Worker (UK)

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