Greece gears up for a massive national strike against government’s handling of COVID-19

Workers, teachers and youth groups in Greece have called for a general strike on November 26 and have put forward a series of demands in sectors such as health care, education and other areas of employment

November 25, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
General Strike -Greece
A flyer from the All Workers Militant Front (PAME) declaring the Greek general strike on November 26.

Trade unions in Greece, along with the other progressive sections, are gearing up for a massive general strike on Thursday, November 26 to protest government insensitivity amid the fresh spike in COVID-19 cases across the country.  Schools, hospitals, workplaces, and other public infrastructure are facing an acute lack of resources to fight COVID-19 and provide safety to the people. The All Workers Militant Front (PAME), Civil Servants Confederation (ADEDY), Federations of Associations of Hospital Doctors (OENGE) and the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), along with their affiliated unions, teachers unions, and the Students Struggle Front, among others, have given the call for the strike.

The organizers are demanding immediate government intervention in various sectors, including hospitals, workplaces, schools, and public transport facilities, to fight against the COVID-19 spread. In the health sector, unions have demanded more hospital beds, including in the ICUs, additional diagnostics and laboratory centers, as well as the mass recruitment of doctors of all specialties and nursing staff. A key demand is that the government ensure sufficient infrastructure and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

For the working class, the unions have demanded benefits without terms and conditions to all those who are unemployed. They have also called for the revoking of all illegal terminations that have taken place during the COVID-19 period, and ending further redundancies. In addition, they are demanding that there be no cuts in employment rights and a moratorium on bank payments be provided along with free electricity, gas, water, communication services, etc., for workers in quarantine.

In schools, the unions are demanding added cleaning staff, the division of classes so as to ensure a limit of 15 students per class, and facilities for free and accessible online learning. More staff and services have also been demanded for the public transport infrastructure.

Even though Greece was able to control the spread of the virus after the first round of restrictions from March 22 to May 4, limiting the number of infections to 2,632, the rate has increased since the restrictions were relaxed. A serious spike in COVID-19 cases has been witnessed since October. On November 5, the conservative New Democracy-led  government imposed a national lockdown in the wake of the fresh spike in cases across the country. As of November 25, around 95,137 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Greece, with 1,815 deaths.

On November 10, workers across Greece had organized a National Day of Action to demand protection of public health and to ensure health and safety in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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