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Greece’s Working Class Demonstrates Against New Labor Bill With Massive Rallies, General Strike

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The Greek working class protested the government’s new labor bill Thursday with massive rallies and general strikes. 

Trade unions organized in the private and public sectors, artisan unions and student associations participated in the general strike, which was supported by left-wing parties, including but not limited to the main opposition SYRIZA party; the Greek Communist Party (KKE), the country’s fourth biggest party with strong ties to trade unions and former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’ MeRA25 party.

Major rallies were attended by thousands in Athens in central squares of Klafthmonos and Syntagma by the Greek Civil Servants’ Confederation (ADEDY) and PAME, respectively, who chanted and carried the banners that read: “We will not become modern slaves” and “Either their profits or our lives, among others.”

Speaking at Klafthmonos on behalf of ADEDY, senior trade unionist Dimitris Bratis argued the bill would severely undermine the rights of the working class, including the right to strike as guaranteed by the Constitution.

It abolishes the eight-hour shift, abolishes collective agreements and essentially abolishes the five-day work week, he said.

At the other rally, dominated mostly by supporters and members of KKE and PAME, the crowd condemned the labor bill as well as the government’s response to the deadly flood in the central Thessaly region.

“Today’s strike is the starting point for new, militant mobilizations to cancel in practice the plan of the government and the business groups that want us to be modern slaves,” PAME said in a statement.

Demonstrations were also held in other major cities, including the northern port city of Thessaloniki and the western cities of Patra and Preveza, and in Heraklion.

But noteworthy was the fact that the strike and rallies were not supported by some major trade unions, including the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) which separately proposed amendments to the bill in a statement Sept.18.

A vote on the bill is expected Sept. 22 in parliament and approved because the conservative New Democracy (ND) government has a sufficient parliamentary majority.

Source: AA

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