Greece needs break with EU

by our European Affairs correspondent

THOUSANDS of workers and pensioners marched through Athens on Tuesday in anger at the Syriza- led government’s attempts to appease the Troika of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission with more cuts to avoid defaulting on the Euro-debt that is crippling the country.

Greece must repay the International Monetary Fund €1.6 billion by 30th June or be declared in default, potentially triggering a bank run and capital controls. But the best efforts of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to buy time by playing off Franco-German imperialism against Russia to secure yet another “bail-out” have, so far, failed to shift the Troika, who are demanding their pound of flesh from the suffering Greek people.

The protest headed by the communist-led PAME workers’ front called for a mass mobilisation to block Tsipras’ savage new cuts. “The solution is to be found in the struggles under the banners of the workers and people’s interests, on the basis of our rights and needs and not those of the bosses,” PAME says.

“The solution is to be found in the confrontation in the workplaces, in the complete counter-attack against our exploiters, who are the only ones to have profited from the new barbaric measures.

“We turn our backs on those who want us to applaud the government and its partners, the cheerleaders of a negotiation that is leading us to poverty for the profits of the few.

“We turn our backs on the defenders of the EU, the unions of capital and their servants who are protesting for their right to continue to live off the sweat of others, to continue to exploit the vast majority of the people even more savagely.”

The Troika wants to suck out even more funds from the Greek pension system which has already fallen by 40 per cent over the past five years. Tsipras’ Radical Left coalition won a snap election in January by promising defend workers’ rights, crack down on the Greek oligarchs, ditch austerity and renegotiate the country’s €240 billion bailout with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

In power Syriza and their maverick right-wing Independent Greeks coalition partners carried on where the discredited old social-democratic and conservative coalition left off in maintaining the draconian austerity regime imposed on the Greek people by the European banks and the International Monetary Fund.

But further cuts in pensions are threatening to tear Syriza apart with some MPs threatening to walk out if the last remaining safety net in the country is cut to the bone.

Pro-EU politicians, largely drawn from the ranks of the conservative New Democracy party and the Pan-Hellenic Socialists (PASOK) whose followers deserted in droves to Syriza in January are rallying behind the EU banner.

They claim that there is no alternative to austerity and that defaulting, which would mean massive devaluation and leaving the Euro and would inevitably lead to Greece leaving the EU altogether and ruin the country.

But the lives of the Greek workers are already in ruins. Unemployment, officially at 25 per cent, is the highest in the European Union and it’s rising. Over 70 per cent of those out of work have been without a job for over a year. Around 45 per cent of the elderly live below the poverty line. Over 210,000 Greek families have applied for meal coupons and free electricity out of a total population of little more than 11 million, under a humanitarian aid programme that began in April.

The “Grexit”, which the Greek bourgeoisie fear, is the only way out of austerity and that is what the Greek communists have been demanding from the start. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) warned that Syriza had deceived the people before the election by spreading the illusion that there was anything in it for workers in attempting to renegotiate better terms with the predators in the EU.

The KKE is calling on working people to overcome the blackmail and intimidation of the bankers, the government and the other bourgeois opposition parties. The communists call for a complete break with the EU, the unilateral cancellation of the debt and the nationalisation of the monopolies, with the people truly holding the reins of power.