The two largest employee trade unions in the country announced another 48-hour strike. Public and private employees will gather together to block the activities in the country on the day of the vote on the mid-term recovery program. It involves serious restrictions, higher taxes and fiscal cuts for the period 2012-2014 in order to reduce the deficit of the country. After the program is completed primary budget surpluses in the range of at least 5% of the GDP should be formed so that Greece itself to repay the foreign debt instead of borrowing from the external markets.
GRReproter contacted Stathis Anestis, who is the deputy secretary of the union of employees in the private sector to explain to our readers what made the unions unite their forces in the longest nationwide strike in the modern history of Greece. "We want to make the political government pay more attention to social policy and to support in these difficult times the weakest strata of society that suffers most from the introduction of restrictive measures," said the trade unionist.
The purpose of the strike itself is to awaken the social conscience of the politicians who must take into account the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and to stop the cuts of social allowances and benefits, and the costs in the health sector and education. The union of employees in the private sector insists the government of PASOK to fill the gaps in the budget and implement effective policies to fight tax evasion. Not the ordinary people should pay but those who have much, they say from the trade union.
"The strike is organized to express the strongest protest of our society against the serious and unjust measures included in the mid-term recovery program under the control of the Troika and the European Commission." He stressed that the planned measures are extremely difficult and unpopular, and no one in the country is willing to support them. Therefore, this requires an expression of the public discontent in the most sharp, but peaceful way.
Stathis Anestis’ statement that despite the discontent that the unions are willing to pour out against the government in the 48-hour strike, the union of employees in the private sector does not oppose the adoption of the mid-term plan is amazing. This is the same plan that will bring a whole bunch of restrictions and higher taxes on the Greeks in the next few years. "The plan can pass and be voted, but we want some assumptions and definitions that are not true in social terms to be changed," said pointedly the deputy general secretary of the union without specifying what he meant.
Later in our conversation Stathis Anestis said that the Greek government and the European Union should understand that by attacking pensioners, workers and ordinary people with such extreme economic measures, no country could hope to survive. The dates of the two-day nationwide strike in Greece are not determined yet and they depend on the government's final decision on when the mid-term plan will be voted. For now, the information indicates that it will be voted on Tuesday, June 28 this year, so the strike should be expected to be held in the first two days next week. The trade unions have the right to change these dates if the government changes the voting date of the mid-term recovery program.
In general, nationwide strikes involve all state enterprises, media, transport and other members of the crucial sectors of the local economy. GRReproter asked some ordinary citizens whether they would join the strike.
A 26-year-old girl who works in a private television in the capital said that if the Union of the Athens Journalists decides to join the protest, she will not go to work either. She wished to remain anonymous, but said she would support the strike because she also disagrees with the changes in the country. However, she added that she would not engage in active protests and does not intend to go to Syntagama to protest.
Marieta, 53 years old, the owner of a small family business for hand-made lampshades said that she would not join the strike, because there is no one to do her job if she does not fulfill the orders. "I have no time for strikes. Things in this country are so serious that if I miss my few remaining customers I will go bankrupt, but I can not afford it."
The 24-year-old Danai, who is studying marketing and advertising, but is working in a large chain of stores for youth fashion also said she would not participate in the general strike. "The strikes are for people who are not afraid that they would lose their jobs. Furthermore, I'm satisfied with my current employer. They comply with my school classes in the university, they pay me regularly, I have social and health insurances and receive a salary, which covers the cost of my education. I will not go on strike." Danai added that she knows how hard times are coming, but she is aware that some problems just need to be overcome. She is not against strikes in general, but does not think there is reason to join the Pan-Hellenic protest now.