Greece: the fightback against austerity

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Greece has been a focal point of crisis and resistance in Europe since exposure of its ballooning debt. Panos Garganos, editor of Socialist Worker's sister paper in Greece, spoke to Ian Taylor about the situation

Panos Garganos

What has been the response to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) going into Greece?

The delegation from the IMF, European Union (EU) and European Central Bank (ECB) arrived in Athens on 21 April, the anniversary of the colonels' coup in 1967. We suffered from the military then. We suffer from the bankers now. The fire service, hospitals, local authorities and teachers were on strike that day - that was the workers' response to the IMF, although the strikes were called earlier.

'No self-restraint' - Greek workers striking

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The working class in Greece is entering March in a very militant mood.

Two days of national industrial action in February and several sectors staging consecutive 48-hour strikes have created a strong momentum.

This has not been a self-evident development. Only last December the Greek TUC refused to call for any action against the government's austerity budget. The ascendance of Pasok (the Greek equivalent of Labour) to power in October after five years of Tory governance seemed to foster conditions for consent between the trade union bureaucracy and the new government.

British Airways: The mundane reality

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Last month's ballot result for industrial action by British Airways cabin crews showed how widespread the fear and anger about management attacks was.

With an 80 percent turnout, it was not just a militant minority who voted by 92.5 percent to strike.

The BBC described the move as "nuclear". But British Airways left its cabin crew with no choice.

Yet we were denied the right to strike by the courts. How can any strike ballot be legal under these anti-union laws? There will always be a turnover of staff in big organisations like BA.

Even if you took out the 1,000 union members who should not have got ballot papers there would still have been a huge mandate for a strike.

Superdrug: The poor can't pay anymore

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We have just been on all-out strike for three weeks. We struck to resist plans by Superdrug to attack our pay and conditions.

They wanted to abolish shift pay, worth £2,000 a year to some people; to take away sick pay from the first three days of every occasion; and to lower sick pay coverage from 13 weeks to seven weeks. They also wanted to cut overtime payment from time and a half to time and a third and to change our contracts to make us work flexible annualised hours.

That's why as a membership and as a union we called a postal ballot to vote for strike action. There was an 86 percent vote in favour of a walkout which we then decided had to be an all-out indefinite strike.

Postal dispute: delivering first class resistance to Royal Mail bosses

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With postal workers taking to the picket lines last month, Mark Dolan, a prominent CWU activist, writes about strikes, rank and file organisation and 30 years working in the post office

I left school at 16 and became a telegram boy for Royal Mail. When I got the job it was regarded as a bit of a privilege as it was part of the civil service. I was probably one of the last to join as a telegram boy. I used to deliver them on a pedal bike, then on a scooter. The idea was that when you were 18 you progressed to sorting letters on the shop floor and going out on deliveries.

Not lost in translation

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At the time of writing, UCU members at Tower Hamlets College in East London have been on all-out strike for three weeks.

Our campaign started in June when we received notice of £2 million cost efficiency savings and cuts to over 40 posts and 1,000 English for Speakers of Other Languages (Esol) places. Our branch began the ballot, fearing cuts. But then the news of what was proposed hit us late on a Friday afternoon and we all went home in shock.

Shell tanker drivers' strike - oil on troubled waters

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"The Shell drivers have driven a coach and horses through the Brown and Darling pay freeze," said Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite, after the Shell tanker drivers won a 14 percent pay deal last month.

A host of commentators explained how it was inevitable they would win: "exceptional case... small group... concentration of power... strategic weak spot... essential resource..." Essential bollocks! No one claimed inevitable victory before the strike (or it wouldn't have happened, would it?)

Boeing beaten back

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We have just concluded a 57 day strike. People have really sacrificed over that period. But it felt good to conclude it with a significant win and even over job security - where the company seemed intractable - we made gains.

The world changed after we went out on strike. There was a Lehman Brothers brokerage firm in the US and the banks hadn't started failing and then a lot of bad news hit so we were lucky to get as much out of this settlement as we did.
The rank and file membership is the backbone of any work stoppage, and ours was resolute. We were absolutely determined that we were going to win. Less than 1 percent of our members crossed the line. Even though you had people hurting they were talking to the press saying, "I'm willing to stay out six months or as long as it takes."

Tube cleaners: a strike for freedom

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I was an activist from a young age. As a student in Nigeria I was secretary of the national students' organisation in my university. I had a political background - I lived with a political uncle and he was my inspiration.

When I came to England, and into the cleaning industry at London Underground (LU), the first thing I found was that the cleaners were predominantly black. That was a motivation, seeing what they were being subjected to. It reminded me of my background.

I got involved and felt I could be part of the struggle. I saw it as a set of people under slavery. It was not just about the money but their oppressive situation, and I felt there was a need for liberation.

Pay Freeze: Learn from the past to shape the future

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As increasing numbers of workers take action over pay Charlie Kimber examines the political dimension of the strikes and looks at the lessons we can learn from the past.

Class struggle is on the rise. In the first 11 months of Gordon Brown's premiership there were over 900,000 strike days, almost three times the number in the same period in the previous year. These figures do not include the big local government action in July.


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