'We Will Strike Until We Win!': Greek Workers Continue Tireless Strikes

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by
Common Dreams

'We Will Strike Until We Win!': Greek Workers Continue Tireless Strikes

Backlash against harsh austerity measures continues

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Riot police spray teargas at protesters during clashes outside the Labour Ministry in Athens January 30, 2013. (Reuters /John Kolesidis)

Workers continued their struggle for an austerity-free Greece Thursday, staging strikes in the health and public transport sectors in the country's capital.

Protesters gathered at several separate demonstrations with port workers rallying in the port of Piraeus to ring in their 48-hour strike and public hospital workers demonstrating at the Health Ministry in central Athens, with hospitals running on emergency staff.

Public buses, suburban rail and trolleys in Athens stood still throughout the day.

Athens' main civil servants’ union declared a three-hour work stoppage at all public services in solidarity—shutting down post offices, tax offices and other services.

Hundreds of doctors, medical staff, teachers and municipal workers marched to parliament, chanting in protest of the "dangerous" austerity measures that continue to rob the nation's public sector in exchange for shady bailout loans from the European Troika—the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank lenders.

"We will strike until we win!" protesters chanted, holding up banners that read, "We'll kick the troika out."

"People have less and more expensive options," said Tassos Antonopoulos, a member of the Greek Federation of Public Hospital Workers. "It is not possible for the citizens of this country, at a time when they are suffering from this situation and the crisis in the country, to [find] the care that they deserve in the public hospitals."

"Pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions while rich Greeks and tax evaders have escaped sacrifice has enraged Greeks and caused a record 26.8 percent unemployment," Associated Press reports.

In another demonstration, about 1,000 supporters of the Communist-affiliated PAME group gathered outside an Athens court in solidarity with activists who were arrested Wednesday for occupying the labor ministry's office in protest of planned cuts to the pension and income contribution system.

On Wednesday, police had arrested more than 30 of the protesters, including many union leaders, sparking fighting between the roughly 200 demonstrators outside the ministry and police who fired tear gas and swung batons.

Meanwhile on Thursday, farmers in central Greece parked tractors alongside the country's main highway for a second day, maintaining a threat to close off the road in protest of spending cuts and high fuel taxes. Riot police stood close by.

Greece's financial crisis has only worsened amongst exponentially more extreme austerity measures led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, which critics say have added to the continually growing unemployment rate.

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