Recent mainstream media reports on Greece have focused on the two general elections held in quick succession: the first, inconclusive; the second, a shaky win for the right wing New Democracy party, after voters were blackmailed into backing pro-austerity parties. But beyond the spectacle of parliamentary politics, Greece remains in simmering revolt, as the economic hardship ratchets up daily.
Union federations have called a number of general strikes, albeit with little in the way of a co-ordinated and on-going campaign to change the political game plan. A couple of disputes exemplify the militancy of workers who have had enough of being screwed. Employees at Greek Steel have faced down legal challenges and employer scab-herding to continue their struggle against job losses and cuts in pay. As the strikers put it: “we are not returning to a dangerous job that places at risk our lives for the pittance of 500 euros per month and without our 120 sacked work colleagues being reinstated”. Meanwhile workers at Phone Marketing have been on strike for over 100 days against demands by their employer to reduce them to working one day a week and being paid less than €200 a month.
On the political front, the emergence of a hard left coalition, Syriza has been remarkable. In 2009, it was polling 4.5%, but the most recent election gave it 27% of the vote, beating the social democratic Pasok party into third place. Whilst the leadership of Syriza is reformist, the coalition includes a large number of revolutionary groups. Where the revolutionaries stood independently (most notably in the Antarsya coalition) their results were disappointing. The other major force on the Greek left is the Communist Party, KKE, which remains die-hard Stalinist, has suffered a decrease in its vote, but retains a heavy base in the working class. [Read more...]