Sunday 19 May 2013

Greece - a sorry retreat

Student support in Kalymnos
Last week, as reported in an earlier post, teachers in Greece were preparing for national strike action in response to vicious attacks on their pay and jobs. 

Sadly, despite the strong support expressed for strike action by teachers' rallies across Greece, the strike was called-off.

It seems that the teachers' union leaderships retreated under the pressure of the legal threats of 'mobilisation' orders and, it has to be said, pressure to back-down that even came from the parties of the Left.

One angry reaction on Facebook complained that, "ΑΥΤΑ ΘΑ ΜΑΘΕΤΕ ΣΤΑ ΠΑΙΔΙΑ ΜΑΣ ΝΑ ΣΚΥΒΟΥΝ ΤΟ ΚΕΦΑΛΙ. ΝΤΡΟΠΗ." which, if my rough translation is acceptable, reads as "(The teachers) are teaching our children to grovel to the bosses. Shame".

The arguments that I am told were made within the national union meeting in Athens regrettably sounded very familiar. I heard similar arguments myself on the NUT Executive earlier this year. They go something like, "Yes, the teachers at the rallies might have called for action, but they're the activists - the mood for action isn't really there". 

Internationally, some trade unionists try to hide their own lack of courage with the excuse that their members lack the will to fight. Members have no choice but to fight - it is their jobs, pay, pensions and conditions that are being attacked. It is the job of their leaders to lead a fight to defeat these attacks.

In England, while not yet the ongoing programme of national strike action required, a calendar of regional strike action is starting in the North-West on June 27th. No teacher trade unionist should think that this can be the end of the campaign. June 27 has to be just the start and be followed, as promised, by joint regional strike action in September and October and then national strike action in November - and beyond.

For a report from Xekinima, the Greek socialist newspaper, read (via a translator) the post on:

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