Editor’s Note: Everywhere we look the world is today in the grip of an acute, artificial crisis caused entirely by capitalism, and which can only be resolved by its replacement by socialism. In Greece—and soon possibly other nations in the so-called developed world—it is acquiring revolutionary dimensions.—PG
Greek police, firefighters march against austerity cuts
From: AP September 07, 2012 9:37AM
THOUSANDS of police have marched through Athens, chanting “thieves, thieves” and carrying black flags, to oppose planned pay cuts under a huge new austerity package meant to save Greece from defaulting on its mountain of debt.
The 4000 protesters, who also included firefighters and coast guard officers, lit flares, blared spray-can horns, and set up mock gallows outside parliament.
The peaceful anti-government demonstration came amid deepening social gloom as official figures showed Greece’s unemployment rate surged to 24.4 per cent in June, with more than 1.2 million people out of work, many of them youths.
It was the latest in a string of protests against the new austerity package for 2013-14, demanded by rescue creditors from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.
It also came as the European Central Bank unveiled its most aggressive plan to date to deal with Europe’s nearly three-year-old debt crisis, promising open-ended, but still conditional, purchases of short-maturity government bonds to keep borrowing costs down for Spain, Italy and other struggling countries.
ECB unveils new crisis aid
A top union leader warned that the Greek spending cuts would unleash unprecedented social unrest without helping the recession-shackled economy.
“To insist on the (current) austerity program and adopt new measures against the less well-off will provoke a social explosion that is violent and of an intensity never seen before by Greek society,” said Yiannis Panagopoulos, head of the country’s main GSEE union.
Without the measures, Greece will lose access to the vital bailout loans that are shielding it from bankruptcy. But after two and a half years of punishing austerity, the new cutbacks planned by Greece’s conservative-led governing coalition have sparked deep anger, spawning unusual protests by workers such as judges and police.
Today’s protesters shouted slogans such as “thieves, thieves”, “shame, you’re delivering the final blow to the security forces” and “come out and see how low you have brought us”, as they marched to the Finance Ministry in central Athens.
They set up mock triple gallows on an open-top van, with a sign reading “Troika” – in reference to the austerity inspectors from the European Union, the IMF and the European Central Bank. An officer from each of the services – police, coast guard and firefighters – stood with his head in a noose.
Earlier, protesting police officers defied colleagues in the riot police and blocked the entrance of one of their own Athens facilities for about four hours.
About 50 officers prevented buses used to carry riot police from leaving the site. The buses are scheduled to go to the northern city of Thessaloniki, where weekend anti-austerity demonstrations are planned.
The jobless figure released by the statistical authority on Thursday jumped from 23.5 per cent in May and 17.2 per cent the previous year – and was more than three times higher than in June 2008, the year before Greece’s acute financial crisis began. An average 1000 jobs were lost every day from June 2011 to June 2012.
Among young people aged up to 25, unemployment was a crippling 55 per cent, compared with 20 per cent four years ago.
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