A busy day started at 7:30am with Alanya (“Solidarity, disobedience,resistance”) opening up the toll booths on one of the major roads into Athens. The road they chose is in private hands, sold off after the Greek people had already paid for it.
The day before, the government announced plans to imprison people for three to six months if they open the toll booths. The group said that they would continue the actions when the bill becomes law, and are prepared to go to prison to stop the rich making profits out of what should be public services. They also said that the government’s response shows how effective actions like this are- in the past year, 50 million euros worth of toll charges has gone uncollected .
Alanya then took me to visit one of the local street markets where one of them had a stall selling shoes. Before the crisis this was a busy bustling market; now it is practically deserted, as most people can no longer afford to shop, even at cheap places like this. When I asked the street traders what they thought the solution was, three out of the four said simply: “revolution”.
Then on to Nikea-Piraeus hospital, the busiest hospital in the country where doctors were having a rank and file union meeting. Unlike Britain, doctors here have always come from working class or lower middle class backgrounds, and their pay is much lower. Doctors earn 1500 euros a month; junior doctors only 500 euros a month at the moment. Cheap Jerseys However, even these small salaries have not been paid at all since December, with many people receiving less than 20 euros a month.
Strike action by junior doctors, organised on a rank and file basis through weekly assemblies at the 35 hospitals in Athens, today finally won them the money they were owed in December. They voted to continue strike action, not only to get the wages they are owed for this year, but to get improvements in health care for the people of Athens.
Dr. Olga Kosmopolou then showed me round the hospital to see the terrible conditions. Wards have beds and patients crammed together, there are severe shortages ray ban sale of equipment and supplies, and patients are now forced to pay for treatment and medicines. Direct action by doctors has ensured that at least people don’t have to pay the 5 euro charge just for visiting the hospital, but medicine is a real problem. Cancer patients are being told to pay literally thousands of euros for essential medication, which means many will die over the next few years. There is now an hiv epidemic too – because there is no money for drug rehabilitation, and no supply of syringes, drug users turn to used syringes. Those who become hiv positive often turn to prostitution to buy the medication they need to survive, which is Cheap Ray Ban Sunglasses accelerating the epidemic. Cheap Jerseys From China Meanwhile the drug companies are making a fortune.
Olga made an appeal to all workers across the continent. “We ask all our European colleagues: We have to fight together, because our present is your future.”
Finally, a nasty reminder of the darkness that could come if we don’t all fight together. In the afternoon, police started rounding up refugees and asylum seekers to be transported to huge detention centres in the North of Greece – essentially concentration camps with no access to lawyers, no indication of how long people will be kept there, and with reports already of maltreatment and torture by police.
Most asylum seekers are here because of a European directive that returns deported asylum seekers to the country they first pass through in Europe – which is normally Greece. Obviously they don’t want to be in a country where they have no support, no chance of a job and Serrano are scared to walk the streets, but the governments of Europe, including our own, are collaborating to force everyone into these Greek concentration camps.
I talked to a worker at a refugee advice centre, who was visibly shaken today, telling me that police were trying to arrest anybody who wasn’t white, including many who either had legal status or who had actually lived in Greece for many years. Members of the openly neo-nazi Golden Dawn attacked students in universities who were attempting to give people a safe refuge – the police aren’t allowed onto university campuses, and apparently there is proof that the police and the nazis are working together.
These are the desperate actions of a government (backed up by the European union, who have provided the money for the detention centres) trying to divert people’s anger over the austerity cuts by blaming refugees. It won’t work. The growth of the nazis is nothing compared to the huge shift to the left that is happening in Greek society. As Oil rig ray ban outlet worker and Alanya member Jake put it, “The people aren’t afraid of the government any more. But the government are very afraid of the people.”
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