Worker Strikes in Greece Now a Meaningless Routine



The announcement of Wednesday’s general strike in Greece by the two largest labor unions was the second this month. An earlier strike took place on November 14. And if one was to report on any of the details of today’s strike, they could easily copy and paste the stories of the November 14 action and save themselves the trouble.

However, there was one difference in this week’s strike: This time public transportation workers participated. However, in reality that actually caused attendance at the rallies to decrease, because demonstrators could not get to downtown Athens.

The demands were the same: Minimum monthly salary of 751 euros, collective bargaining, work for all, and more welfare benefits. And again, less taxes, and stopping the seizures of primary residences were important issues. In other words, demands that this government — any government at this stage — cannot meet.

Yet, for one more time, like Groundhog Day, the public sector union (ADEDY) and the workers union (GSEE) called a general strike.

Oddly, all ministries, state agencies, public service offices, schools, businesses, and factories, were operating as usual.

What was the true purpose of this strike, and of every strike since Greece entered the first bailout program in May 2010? Who has benefited from the countless strikes in the eight ensuing years of recession and harsh fiscal measures?

Which of the (rightful) strikers’ demands was met in all those years? Not one. All governments in the past eight years did nothing but adhere to the creditors’ demands, not those of the Greek people.

Every strike that takes place certainly benefits the Greek state, because all public sector employees who don’t show up for work don’t receive the day’s wages. So the state actually saves money during strikes.

Also, unionists benefit because they make it appear that they work for the workers when they submit their demands to the pertinent ministries and state agencies.

The Greek people can see that all the pointless strikes have no impact whatsoever, and ignore them. Participation in strike rallies is now so small that it is laughable. After so many years of meaningless strikes, the obsession to use the right to strike seems nothing more than a sad remnant of leftist ideology, a “custom” that has to be observed, because it must be observed.

All those strikes in the last several years of austerity did not stop the increase in the prices for staples and consumer goods, the tax hikes, the job dismissals, the low wages, the raises in social security contributions.

As the recession continues, strikes at this point mean absolutely nothing to the Greek people. The apathy of Greeks continues to grow. And apathy may be the most tragic result of all of the struggles of the last several years.