Greek workers went on a day-long strike on 9th November, demanding higher wages to cope with surging inflation, as Europe’s soaring energy prices and living costs trigger industrial action and protests across the continent.
In Athens, thousands of people marched in the second 24-hour walkout this year over rising inflation, some holding up banners that read, “No to layoffs, no to pay cuts.”
It is the latest labour action in Europe, where a growing cost of living crisis and rising energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have led to strikes this month in Britain, France, Spain and Germany, the region’s biggest economy.
“We can no longer bear the high costs. We can no longer bear the poverty. We can no longer bear the exhaustion,” said the pensioners who joined the march.
The General Confederation of Greek Workers Union, which represents private sector workers, said unions had called the strike in protest “against the inflation suffocating Greek households, the jungle-like conditions in the labour market,” referring to labour laws.
Members of the communist-affiliated trade union PAME shout slogans as they demonstrate during a 24-hour general strike, in Athens, Greece, November 9, 2022. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
Ferries were idle at ports and work stoppages by public transport staff resulted in total halt to the transport system in the captial. Some flights were grounded as air traffic controllers had said they planned to join the walkout for six hours.
The General Confederation of Greek Workers Union, together with public sector umbrella union, are demanding an increase in the minimum wage, now at about 713 euros ($717) a month, and the restoration of collective labour laws, as the high cost of energy and basic goods eat into people’s disposable income.
Wages have come down to 500 Euros from 800 Euros in spite of the government subsidies which have mostly gone to companies. Construction workers, IT employees and taxi drivers who participated in one of the biggest rallies since 2015 carried banners that “No one can live on 500 Euros a month”.
Economy has repeatedly topped the concerns of Greeks as 68% of Greeks – more than in any other nation – said their spending power had fallen a lot owing to higher fuel, heating and rent bills.
The workers are determined to pursue their struggle and are waging a relentless battle against the economic policy of the Government.