Greek government votes. People strike and protest.

Athens, Greece in October. Photo from Insociableblog, Creative Commons use.

While America focused on elections Monday and Tuesday, Greece focused on an impending vote by its parliament and staged a massive strike.

From The Independent:
“Greek MPs approved the country’s latest austerity package yesterday aimed at securing – the ruling coalition insists – its financial survival and membership within the European family. Meanwhile, ordinary people’s anger reached boiling point in widespread demonstrations and an 80,000-strong protest outside parliament.

The austerity package was approved with only a 3 vote majority.

Greek unions staged the country’s 3rd general strike since August. The strike began on Tuesday of this week.

“Flora Papadede, secretary of the union of scientists working at an electricity company, summed up the sense of urgency. She told Socialist Worker, “Now it has become a matter of survival. This struggle must lead to victory. We took this decision as a union, that we have two objectives. – source “48 hour strike shakes Greece”

“First to pressure our federation to call consecutive 48 hour strikes, and call other unions for coordination. Second, we need to provide an example to other unions in any kind of workplace.

“We need a general strike that will not stop until we drive their austerity measures back, and this government falls.””

That tactic – stage a general strike until the government listens to you – was proposed here in Wisconsin in February 2011. The majority [or maybe the union leaders] did not agree with that tactic and moved on to recall elections and faith in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Clearly putting all those eggs into that Dem. Party basket didn’t work out for us.

Am I certain Wisconsin should stage a general strike? Not really. We don’t even see AFSCME staging a strike at institutions like King Nusing Home where nurse assistants are treated worse than animals. Which leads me to say, Hey unions in Wisconsin: maybe you should learn how to stage 1 strike. Then you can stage more of them.

The Independent wrote that “Athens is pinning its hopes on the measures in an effort to secure more aid from Europe as well as an extension to its bailout”

Clearly only a little over 1/2 of the Greek government – not “Athens” – is accepting the radical austerity terms of the bailout.

I’ve been following a Greek blog called When the Crisis Hits the Fan written by Kostas Kallergis. Yesterday Kostas tried to report on that protest, but he was blocked:

“I left the square to find a place to breathe and on my way back I was stopped and was forbidden to pass. I showed my press card and explained that I have to return to the square to report. It didn’t mean anything to them. Police units blocked streets leading to the square in front of the Parliament and were turning people away. It’s these small things that cameras don’t show but make a big difference for people on the ground. I felt, to put it bluntly, that Greek citizens have been deprived of the right to demonstrate peacefully for as much as they want.”

Because Kostas was blocked from covering the news – and I know what that feels like – I searched for images from the protest to share – which you can see below.

By the way, Greece’s parliament will also vote on the country’s budget on Sunday. American media is likely to be filled with post-election spin while news on Greece falls to the bottom of the pile or is deliberately slanted to favor financiers.

Syntagma 7/11/12
Syntagma Square, 11/7/12. Image from linmtheu of flickr

Syntagma 7/11/12
Syntagma Square, 11/7/12. Image from linmtheu of flickr

Kiosk on fire @Athens 07/11/12
Image and text below are from va_sfak of flickr.

“Kiosk on fire @Athens 07/11/12

Protesters and police watch a nearby kiosk burning to ashes as the massive riot continues in Syntagma square in central Athens November 7, 2012. More than 100,000 protesters chanting and cursing outside parliament as lawmakers neared a vote on unpopular budget cuts and labor reforms that the government is narrowly expected to win. Despite the heavy rain, people remained protesting for a long period.”

Γκάελ has many dramatic photos of protests in Greece HERE on flickr.

Poster by little shiva of flickr. ” Color poster (A3 size) for sale, flexible price. You can order by mail (minimum quantity 3) for a minimum price of 1 euro each. Write to for more info.”


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