Archive for September 25th, 2011

Mass transport strike in Athens Monday 26 September

We are set for a difficult week as from tomorrow.

On Monday no Metro, tram and suburban trains for 24 hours. Buses and trolleys will stop operations from 11 in the morning till 5 in the afternoon.

Taxis will be on a 48 hour strike Tuesday and Wednesday.

In the meantime flights are erratic because of the flight controllers “work on schedule” unofficial strike. Flight controllers oppose the Greek government’s new measures about civil servants and especially the unique payroll rule. Their union claims that there is a shortage of stuff and the fact that flights were operated normally till now was due to their working much longer hours than they should.

Greek crisis:a view from the inside

Today, Friday, I had to go to the center of Athens on business. I had not been downtown for a long time. I detest the center of Athens, end of summer beginning of autumn, when it is still hot enough to sweat, noisy enough to drive you nuts and as dirty as the rest of the year.

This morning I realised why my friends and acquaintances who work downtown look so depressed. There was a strike of the metro, the tram and the suburban train system. The result was a chaos of traffic. The bus system is inadequate and inefficient most of the time so noone is surprised at today’s mess. Add to this explosive cocktail a march that occupied the area between Syntagma and Omonia Squares, trapping cars and trolleys for hours and  adding fuel fumes to the suffocating atmosphere,   and you can understand why the people are so desperate and disappointed with this government as well as with the previous ones. “We Greeks are tired before we reach our place of work!!” , complains a thirty something man.

A young woman is waving frantically at a taxi. She knows she is going to pay an exorbitant amount due to the traffic but has no choice if she wants to get to work on time. “They (her employers) are looking for an excuse to fire people. I cannot afford to give them one”, she says to her friend who argues that taxis are expensive.

I walk from the bus stop to the office where I have to be at ten. It is a depressing fifteen minutes: many old firms have closed and the street is filled with “to let” signs. The number  of melancholy men and women, who seem not to care so much about their looks and are lost in thought have increased. The verbal attacks on immigrants in buses are multiplying and there are charges of physical attacks as well in the seedy side of the metropolis. Racism and xenophobia are invading and eroding Greek society. Extreme right politicians are gaining ground blaming the immigrant influx for the rampant unemployment.

The Social democratic government is trapped in the “markets rule” theory and cannot – or will not? – resist the pressure of the Monetary Fund.

The left, maligned for so long and still bearing the stigma of the  failure of the communist regime, sees its proposals rejected without being heard.

This is the atmosphere in Greece: disappointment with the government’s handling of the situation, despair at the inability of the country to get out of this bottomless debt, insecurity and fear of what may come tomorrow. Naomi Kleine’s “Shock doctrine” comes to mind.

Does Greek society have enough strength and cohesion to withstand this “experiment” and survive? I am no fortune teller but feel that the only way out of this impasse is solidarity and more solidarity, hope and more hope, struggle and more struggle.