Athens hunger strike ended – Wednesday, March 9 2011

Immigrants and Greek government meet halfway

The 300 immigrants who were on hunger strike for 44 days met today with the Ministers of Internal affairs Mr. Yannis Ragoussis, Health Mr. Andreas  Loverdos and the Deputy Minister of Labour Ms Anna Dalara in the offices of the General Confederation of Greek workers (GSEE).

According to the Athens News Agency, in a not so clear report, the Greek Government representatives proposed to lower the number of working years required for legalization from 12 to 8 years (the immigrants’ request was for 5 years), to provide the immigrants with traveling documents for them to visit their home countries and the possibility to extend the 6 months tolerance period before deportation with police approval and on an individual basis, not massively.

After the end of the strike the immigrants’ representatives thanked the solidarity committee and all the people who supported their struggle in any way. The solidarity committee mentioned in its statement that “the immigrants’ demands were partially satisfied. This case proved to us that the only “lost” struggles are those never fought.

The Greek Red Cross has started offering gradual food to the strikers still in the YPATIA building and the same is happening with those hospitalized.

In my opinion the government stepped back not only to avoid an unnecessary death and its repercussions but also due to the unexpected solidarity expressed by all kinds of people from artists to journalists, from doctors to academics, from unions to city councilors. Even in polls in the internet Greek society was divided in half. One of the good results of the economic crisis is that the “divide and rule” policy towards the working people is beginning to wear off. People are no more angry with strikers because they know that they might be the next to go on strike.