The people of Greece face an unprecedented economic and political crisis (Violence grips Athens, 13 February). They are being driven to poverty and mass unemployment by the demands of the so-called Troika. Hospitals in Greece are running out of medicines, nearly half of all young people are unemployed, workers in some sectors have not been paid for months, the living conditions of pensioners are being severely attacked, and many people are forced to resort to soup kitchens or scavenge from rubbish dumps.
Now the Troika demands a cut of 23% to the minimum wage, the sacking of tens of thousands of public sector workers and further cuts to pensions which have already lost nearly 50% of their value. International capital is asset stripping an entire country and ripping apart its social fabric. Greece is at the cutting edge of the austerity measures that are being introduced across Europe. All the evidence shows that while these measures may protect the interests of the rich, they just make matters worse for the majority of the population. What happens in Greece today we will see in Portugal tomorrow and in Ireland the day after. In Britain, the coalition government is pursuing similar measures which will see workers’ earnings reduced, see them working longer for a smaller pension, and the NHS dismantled, along with other public services.
Mikis Theodorakis, famous Greek composer of Zorba’s Dance, and Manolis Glezos, veteran resistance fighter against the Nazi occupation, have issued a call for a European Front to defend the people of Greece and all those facing austerity. We have decided to support this call and work with trade unions, campaigns and parties across Europe to establish a European Solidarity Campaign to defend the people of Greece. We will organise solidarity and raise practical support for the people of Greece; they cannot be made to pay for a crisis for which they are not responsible.
Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite
Mark Serwotka General secretary, PCS
Bob Crow General secretary, RMT
Billy Hayes General secretary, CWU
Michelle Stanistreet General secretary, NUJ
Manuel Cortes General secretary, TSSA
Matt Wrack General secretary, FBU
Christine Blower General secretary, NUT
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Caroline Lucas MP
John McDonnell MP
Andrew Burgin Secretary, Coalition of Resistance
Romayne Phoenix Chair, Coalition of Resistance
Imran Khan Co-chair, People’s Charter
John Hendy Co-chair, People’s Charter
Frank Cooper President, National Pensioners Convention
Lee Jasper Black Activists Rising Against Cuts
Paul Mackney Vice-chair, Coalition of Resistance
James Meadway Senior economist, New Economics Foundation
Rachel Newton Convenor, People’s Charter
Sean Rilla Razka President-elect, ULU
Pete Murry Green party trade union group
Peter Allen Convenor, Green Left
Patrick Sikorski RMT
Clare Solomon Co-editor Springtime: The New Student Rebellions
Cherry Sewell Coalition of Resistance
Cat Boyd Chair, Coalition of Resistance Glasgow
• Before I came to Greece in August, nearly everyone I spoke to had some kind of comment to make about the state of the Greek economy. At the time, I shrugged it off. Of course, I’ll be fine – the media is exaggerating. Five months later, I’ve lost the certainty that, while things are hard, they’ll get better soon.
Stubbornly proud of my fatherland, I refused to believe this was something we wouldn’t survive. I started a blog, where I posted daily snapshots of my life in Athens in an attempt to counterbalance images such as on the NY Times “Pictures of the day”, which were not usually positive. But only a cursory glance at the news now indicates this is definitely something that isn’t going away. I notice that every week there is a new empty storefront in the shopping area I walk by every day. My colleagues’ worries about pay cuts and their children’s future are serious and increasing. The number of people homeless on the street seems to be skyrocketing. What I do know is that the average Greek doesn’t deserve this. The way the “inflated public sector” is discussed, both inside Greece and abroad, seems to ignore the fact that these employees are people too, who cannot necessarily be assigned blame. Something has to give. I just hope Greece can survive.