Greek general strike battles austerity

first_imgPAME march in Greece, Feb. 20.Just days before an inspection team was due to check that Greece’s new austerity measures were in place, tens of thousands of workers took to the streets on Feb. 20 and shut the country down. The strikers made it clear that “reforms” that leave patients without health care and drugs, students without education, taxpayers without money, families with no one employed, workers without labor rights and 68 percent of the youth without jobs are really attacks on the Greek people and their standard of living. (Greek Reporter, Feb. 20)The inspection team is from the Troika — the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank — which offered its first bailout to Greece in 2010 after three years of recession. The Troika offers only more austerity.As an example, the minimum wage was cut by 22 percent in 2012 from $989 a month to $772 and just $673 for youth, with another 10 to 15 percent decrease due in 2013.What’s worse is that, according to the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) relying on official statistics, only 600,000 workers out of 1.5 million employed in the private sector get a regular paycheck. Most employers in Greece pay anywhere from 3 to 15 months late; workers keep on working in the hopes of getting back pay or at least severance.Many of the workers getting minimum wages are in the private sector.Protest marches took place in 70 cities, with large demonstrations on the island of Crete, and one action attracting 18,000 participants in Thessaloníki, Greece’s second largest city. Farmers, whose access to credit is under attack by the Troika, actively blocked, in particular, the highway between Athens and Thessaloníki.In Athens, two demonstrations followed the same route, ending at Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament, both with similar demands. The Greek Communist Party (KKE) supported the All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) union confederation’s march and the other march by the GSEE, together with the Civil Servants’ Confederation. The main press services of France and Germany both reported significantly from 50,000 to 60,000 participants.According to AFP, the main banner carried by PAME read, “No to modern sweatshops, hands off collective labor agreements.”KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga led a large KKE delegation at PAME’s demonstration. She told the crowd: “The working people who are suffering must take a decision. To discover their strength and advance combatively, towards the rupture and overthrow, to the very end. Otherwise, they will find themselves trapped against the wall.”At the other march, the GSEE, the union movement close to social democratic parties, explained: “We are fighting for collective bargaining agreements, for measures to be finally taken against unemployment and to ensure our democratic and working rights.” Some of PAME’s demands made the same points.Syriza, a major presence in the GSEE/ADEDY march, is an electoral coalition of social democratic and left parties which heads the opposition. Syriza said it wanted to use the strike as a springboard to force out the coalition government led by the conservative prime minister, Antonis Samaras. “The general strike aims to bring down the government and annul (the austerity) agreement and measures,” Syriza said in leaflets handed out this week.Greek President Karolos Papoulias, whose role is symbolic, commented, “We are faced with a societal explosion if any more pressure is put on society,” ruminating, perhaps, over the constant barrage of pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions that he nonetheless supports. (Greek Reporter, Feb. 20)FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Struggle over union at Bröd Kitchen

first_imgNew York — The owners of Bröd Kitchen on Manhattan’s trendy Upper East Side suddenly announced on Jan. 14 that they would permanently shut down the unionized bakery/restaurant the following day. This threat to throw 19 workers out of their jobs was a clear attempt at union-busting. The company made the announcement just as it was supposed to begin negotiations for the union’s second contract. The union represents primarily immigrant and African-American workers, some of whom had left other jobs to work at Bröd.Bröd is the new name of the Hot and Crusty bakery. In 2012 workers there waged a historic unionization campaign, led by the Laundry Workers Center and shown in the award-winning documentary “The Hand That Feeds.” They fought hard for a better life for themselves and all workers, forming their own union, the Hot and Crusty Workers Association, which won paid vacations, de facto seniority, a union hiring hall and other crucial rights.By trying to wipe that out, Bröd’s owners are pushing forward a climate in which every right won by working people is under attack.Against this attempted union-busting, a strong coalition of trade union and student militants as well as immigrant activists rallied outside Bröd’s new West 4th Street store on Jan. 28. Between 200 and 300 people were at the protest.Their main slogan was “Stop union-busting at Bröd Kitchen.”The rally was endorsed by New York City’s Central Labor Council. Student groups from both New York University, which is close to the new Bröd, and Hunter, close to the old Bröd, were strongly present.Unions that came included Bricklayers, UNITE-HERE Local 100, United Food and Commercial Workers, Domestic Workers United, postal workers, NY Taxi Workers Alliance, Brandworkers International, TWU Local 100 and the Professional Staff Congress, as well as a class from Union Semester, DC37 Local 768.Activist groups at the rally included the CUNY Internationalist Clubs, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Families for Freedom, Street Vendor Project, People’s Power Assembly, Crown Heights Tenant Union, 99 Pickets and Justice First.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

DIGICEL Schools football, Region 6 leg

first_imgSkeldon High inflict 9-0 thrashing on CCSSBy Colin BynoeSKELDON High inflicted a crushing 9-0 defeat on Central Corentyne Secondary School (CCSS) as action in this year’s DIGICEL nationwide schools football championship resumed on Wednesday at Burnham Park.The championship took a two-week break, as coordinator of the championship Mr Peters rescheduled matches due to the inclement weather and other factors.Play in the lone encounter for the day brought together CCSS and a starting seven-man Skeldon High.The lads from Upper Corentyne went on a goal-scoring frenzy – goals coming at regular intervals. Early goals from Javon Angel in the 6th minute and Lester Reynolds in the 14th minute gave Skeldon High full control of the match from the beginning.It suddenly became a one-sided affair when two late goals came off the boot of Mark Matthews in the 20th minute and Oswald Gewan in the 36th to close off the first half. The score read 4-0 at the halfway stage in favour of Skeldon High.The final period was a riot as a nine-man Skeldon High hit home five more goals, three of which came from Steiner Peneus in the 38th, 44th and 60th minutes, which secured a lop-sided win to propel them to the other round.The championship resumes today at Burnham Park.Winifred Gaskin battle Corentyne Comprehensive High at 15:30hrs.last_img read more