Massive protests across Greece in defense of social security

There is a strong demand for repealing the social security reforms proposed by the New Democracy (ND)-led government in the country. The reforms encourage privatization across sectors

December 04, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Greece protests
Massive demonstrations against social security reforms in Greece.

On Saturday, November 30, thousands of workers, pensioners, youth and other sections of Greek society held massive demonstrations across the country in defense of workers’ social security and pension rights. The protests were in response to the conservative New Democracy (ND)-led government’s plan to further privatize insurance. The call for the demonstrations was given by trade unions, including the All Workers Militant Front (PAME), Pan-Hellenic Association of Retired Teachers (PESEK) and Pan-Hellenic Association of Retired Naval Engineers, among others. 

In Athens, the march culminated in front of the Greek parliament. The protesters raised a huge banner in front of the parliament, which read “Put your hands off social security,”  according to a report. Massive demonstrations also took place in Thessaloniki and other major cities.

Protesters are demanding the repeal of the social security reforms promulgated by the incumbent government, and also those previously brought in by the Syriza and PASOK led-governments in the country. A new social security legislation prepared under the supervision of minister of labor, Yiannis Broustis, is set to be tabled in the parliament in January 2020. This legislation is said to be more anti-worker than the reforms introduced in 2016 by Giorgos Katrougalos, the minister for labor and social solidarity from Syriza. 

The secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Dimitris Koutsoumpas, said on Saturday that insurance, welfare, health and education are social rights, and that people of Greece should not have to tolerate any government cuts in these areas that are made at the instigation of private capital and the EU.

Meanwhile, the trade unions organizing the protest march have stated, “We fight for public, compulsory social security for all workers, locals and immigrants, and the protection of their families based on modern needs. We need an integrated social security system, including pension rights, health prevention and rehabilitation services, social welfare benefits and services. We will fight to abolish private business from the field of healthcare – welfare and medicines, and fight for increases in salaries and pensions.”

The protesting unions have expressed solidarity with the national strike in France announced by the French trade unions on December 5. They have also given a call for a march to the Greek parliament on December 14.