Thursday, February 14, 2008

Greece Closed Down by Workers

Attack on Pensions by Right Wing Government Resisted
Thomas Riggins

“Options in favor of the European Union are incompatible with any concept of measures in favor of the popular strata”—A.Papariga, General Secretary, KKE

Yesterday the Greek working class closed down Greece for 24 hours to protest another attempt by the right wing capitalist state, run by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, to mess with the pension system.

Karamanlis wants to reduce benefits and extend the working age past 65 (men) and 60 (women) despite the fact that he won re-election last year after pledging to do neither.

The typical politicians ploy of promising one thing to get elected and then reneging.

The two big unions, General Confederation of Greek Workers and Civil Servants’ Union, succeeded in closing down the banks, hospitals, air ports and public services in a massive general strike to protect their retirement rights. This is the second walkout in two months!

The leader of the GCGW said, “We won’t accept attempts to capsize the pension system. We won’t accept pension changes that hurt the young, women and workers in heavy and arduous industries.”

The Greek pension system is considered one of the best in the EU for workers, so naturally the capitalists want to reduce the benefits it provides—more profits for them.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development claims that the system MIGHT in the future (15 years down the line) cost too much.

Lots can happen in 15 years, what’s the rush? Is the right afraid a more worker friendly future government won’t slash people's benefits? Their excuse, based on the OECD data, is that they must prevent big deficits that could threaten to become an excessive drag on a future government.

Well, the answer to that is not to stick it to the workers but to up the tax on the big monopoly corporations operating in the country and effect massive savings by taking Greece out of NATO and no longer playing the role of American puppet.
[Some facts and quotes from a New York Times report by Anthee Carassava, 2-14-2008]

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