Wednesday, June 30, 2010
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS EUROPE:
STRIKES LEAD TO FURTHER CONFRONTATIONS IN EUROPE:
General strikes in Greece and the Basque countries in Spain were generally successful the other day, and at least in Greece led to further confrontations with the police during the strikers' demonstrations. Meanwhile in Madrid an unlimited strike on the metro has led to confrontations with the police there as well. The Madrid strike is supported by all three of the Spanish anarchosyndicalist organizations, the CGT, the CNT and Solidaridad Obrera. According to Solidaridad Obrera who are particularly strong in the Madrid Metro the strike has had practically 100% compliance, a considerable step up with the poorly attended "general strike" in the public sector called by the "official" trade unions, the UGT and the CCOO, earlier this month. The one day general strike in the Basque countries where local unions outweigh the larger national ones was also more successful.
The following is a story from The Independent in Ireland about the strike in Greece. Note that "numbers" are a continued bone of contention. the unions claim far larger numbers at their demonstrations than are reported here.
Greece, Spain rocked by riots in a day of protests
By William Fernie in Athens
Wednesday June 30 2010
Dozens of masked youths clashed with police yesterday at a union protest in Athens during a general strike against the cash-strapped Greek government's planned pension and labour reforms.
Similar strikes in Spain also led to arrests and clashes with police.
Greek riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse troublemakers who threw chunks of marble smashed off a metro station entrance and set rubbish bins on fire.
The violence came as 10,000 people took part in a demonstration organised by the country's two main unions and fringe left-wing groups. A separate march by 5,000 members of the Communist Party-backed PAME union ended peacefully.
Public services shut down across Greece as workers walked off the job as the strike disrupted public transport, left hospitals operating on emergency staff and pulled all news broadcasts off the air.
They are protesting against draft legislation that would increase retirement ages and make it cheaper for companies to fire workers. The measures are aimed at fixing the country's debt crisis, which has shaken the entire eurozone. Similar protests in May also turned violent, with three workers dying in a bank torched by rioters.
Greece is caught in a major debt and deficit crisis. It avoided bankruptcy last month only after receiving the first installment of a €110bn emergency loan package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
In Spain, similar strikes against austerity measures caused transport havoc in Madrid and led to clashes between police. Subway trains stopped running because of the stoppage to protest against public sector wage cuts ordered by the government. Spain is struggling to emerge from nearly two years of recession following the collapse of its construction sector which had earlier fuelled a decade of economic boom.
Besides its swollen deficit problems, it also has an unemployment rate of 20pc, the highest in the EU.
- William Fernie in Athens
Predictably the most militant clashes with the police (or attacks by the police from another viewpoint) happened in Greece. Here's a report of clashes from the Occupied London Blog. Note the difference in crowd size estimates between this report and the one above. Note also that yet another general strike is planned for next week in Greece.
General strike day in Athens:
Demonstrators attack police with their bare hands;
Fascists rooted off the demo;
Riot police beat demonstrators in the metro;
money transfer vans chasen out of Exarcheia
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
A brief summary of a very eventful day…
■At least 13 detentions in the Athens demonstration alone, six of which have turned into arrests (that is, these people face charges). There are already e-mails circulating, denouncing the unprovoked arrest of Dimitris Aggelis Dimakis, a student of European History at the University of Athens. Any updates on Dimitris’ case, or any other of today’s arrestees, will be published here.
■The general strike demonstration largely lacked in numbers (anything between 30,000 and 50,000 might be a good estimate, that together with the demo of the Stalinist PAME, which is always separate). The reasons could be anything from the numbness so many feel from the cataclysmic changes happening all around us, to the May 5th aftermath, or simply that we’re entering deep summer. In any case, what we lacked in numbers we had in the passion of some people who were out on the streets. When a couple of riot police units tried to cross through part of the demonstration at Syntagma (just opposite parliament) they were evidently surprised to see the amount of abuse they got from “ordinary” demonstrators who attacked them with empty water bottles and their bare hands, to send them out of the demonstration. More photos from this incident here.
■Earlier on, at exactly the same spot (Syntagma square, opposite the Grande Bretagne hotel) around 25-30 fascists had gathered with Greek flags, banners, army clothing and so on. They were attacked by a few comrades who were immediately joined in by other demonstrators. The fascists were attacked with their own flag poles. They were chased all the way to the other end of Syntagma square, where they found refuge behind a riot police unit. This is the second attempt by small fascist groups to join in a general strike demonstration (the first being May 20th) but they must be learning a lesson by now.Some more photos from today’s demonstration in Athens are here.
■Before the demonstration, about 25 comrades stormed in the supermarket Sklavenitis in the neighbourhood of Pagrati and removed essential goods which they then re-distributed at a nearby open air market, along with a text explaining their action. A similar action took place in Thessaloniki, too.
■After the demonstration, two money transfer vans driving through Exarcheia were chased and smashed up at Stournari Street (close to the Polytechnic school).
■Finally, after the demonstration in Athens, riot police units stormed the metro and chased people who were leaving the people. They were attacking, beating and pushing people at the platforms with imminent danger for the demonstrators’ lives. More photos from the Omonoia station incident here.
■Meanwhile, overground, riot police were also beating demonstrations – again at Omonoia:
■Earlier, at Syntagma square again, the thugs of the “Delta” motorcycle police force were only too eager to confirm the old Greek saying, “stupidity is unbeatable”. Two of their motorcycles collided with one another. The result?
This sums up the main incidents from Athens today. The mainstream trade union, GSEE, has already announced there will be another strike next week – the date is yet to be confirmed and will appear here as soon as it is known.
Meanwhile in the Basque countries (Euskadi) of Spain another one day general strike happened on June 29. Once more estimates of the participation rate vary dramatically depending on the source, the Basque government claiming only about 10% while union sources claiming upwards of 70%. The strike was supported by the local Basque unions and the anarchosyndicalists across the province while the CCOO and the UGT only supported it in part of Euskadi. Here's a report from the CGT in Nafarroa published in Rojo Y Negro, the newspaper of the CGT. The original Spanish can be seen at the reference above.
29 of June One Day Strike in Pamplona . Assessment and Chronical
From the CGT -Nafarroa: We started our activity at 5 am by car handing out leaflets in the streets and parks calling the rally and demonstration we had convened . (Full stop here...you'll know that anarchists are serious when they're willing to start at 5 am-Mollymew )
At 5:20 pm, a picket at the gates of VW, with police identification check of a companero and an inspection of the banner.
Later, at 6:20 pm, we have concentrated on the train station , distributing propaganda and information to users and workers. At 7:30 pm there was a demonstration in the Plaza de las Merindades and the beginning of a colorful bicycle picket by the different neighborhoods of the city which received police harassment was intended to stop our presence in the street... harassment by the motorcycles and vans of the various police , a fine from the municipal police , identification checks of everyone by the national police ... All this added to the previous fine in the campaign of preparation for the strike day .
At 11 am, in the Plaza del Vinculo , a large rally began with the participation of various companeros of the union , all in both Euskera and Castilian , as well as Ceacero Jacinto , Secretary General of the CGT. The various interventions revolved around:
•Stop the cuts and defend the rights achieved with struggle by the workers in past decades.
•Change the socioeconomic model : in the face of growth, competitiveness and exclusion, division: sharing limited growth and self-management .
•Maintenance of the mobilization: the strike as a starting point to recover space and autonomy, not as an end .
After the rally , which was set to music thanks to the participation of the Libertarian Fanfarra , we started to march on the Plaza del Castillo, where we joined the protest from other unions.
The assessment of the day we have is positive because of the degree of 'electricity' we perceived that we reached as an organization, in a general climate of social and labor apathy . We understand that protests like those today have a high potential of spreading to more social sectors and more territories and to expand quantitatively and qualitatively the mobilization to stop the advance of neoliberalism that we suffer.
So from today we start to think of and prepare the next step in the escalating mobilization that we want.
Perhaps the most significant event in the European strike wave is the Metro strike in Madrid even though it is not a general strike. It is, however, a strike in an absolutely critical industrial sector and, most importantly, it is not a symbolic one day strike. It's unlimited as they like to say in Spain. It is also the strike where the anarchosyndicalists seem to have their greatest influence. Unfortunately I'm running out of time so I'll have to take this up later, hopefully tomorrow. This strike will probably still be happening then unless one side or the other backs down.