StopCartel TV broadcasts live from Athens, Greece weeknights @ 6 pm Athens time. The following post is a loose transcript from the July 23, 2012 broadcast – LIVE and on location from Omonia Square in Athens.
By greydogg and snake arbusto, 99GetSmart
In the early morning hours on Monday, the Greek rioting police used chemical weapons to disperse a group of striking steelworkers gathered outside the gates of the Hellenic Halyvourgias Steel Mill in Aspropygos. The strikers were there to protest the reopening of the steel mill.
A heroic nine-month strike was interrupted at 5:30 am on Friday, 20 July, in a brutal raid by rioting police, who were working in the interest of a private owner. See: Riot Police Raid Hellenic Halyvourgias Steel Mill: http://99getsmart.com/?p=4154
From Athens News:
According to the police, the protesters were trying to close the gates in order to prevent other workers from entering the plant.
Police were allowing entrance through the factory gates to workers who wanted to get back to work.
Traffic congestion was reported on the Athens-Corinth motorway in the early hours of Monday, as two of the three lanes remained closed to traffic.
During their meeting on Saturday, Hellenic Steelworkers decided to continue their strike, with 164 votes in favor and 5 against.
The President of the Hellenic Steel union, Giorgos Sifonios, said during the meeting that “No steel worker will go back to work unless our requests are granted.” He also stressed that, “Whoever does will be stigmatized for the rest of their life.”
Eight Greek unions quickly organized a rally in Omonia Square on Monday evening, to show solidarity and support for the striking steelworkers. The turnout for the demonstration was very encouraging, with an estimated 10,000 people in attendance.
During the rally, Giorgos Sifonios, the President of the Hellenic Steelworkers Union, spoke to the people.
Mr. Sifonios referred to the violent procedures the rioting police used to arrest eight strikers. He spoke about the use of force and the chemical weapons that were used against him and the strikers in order to protect Nikos Manesis, a capitalist of the Greek steel cartel. The fact that the police repeatedly protect the interests of private owners against the people has played a very adverse role in this struggle, he said.
When the terrorism does not succeed in silencing the people, the rioting police and the mass media coordinate to deceive the people and begin to lie. Currently, the story they are telling is that the steel mill is open and 100 men are working, but this is a lie. No one is working.
Mr. Sifonios went on to explain that the steelworkers have taken a vote and have decided that the struggle and the strike will continue. Their demands remain the same, with one addition: The police must leave the factory at once.
More and more unions are signing on to the demands of the steelworkers union. This affirms the success of the strike. This is another example of how the government cannot win when they are confronted with the unity of the steelworkers and the people who support them. The factory is closed and it will continue to be closed until our demands are met. The only part of the factory that is working is the canteen, where the administrators and owners can make coffee.
As for the power of the workers’ unity, Mr. Sifonios said that the rioting police tried to dampen the spirits of the strikers, but it only served to strengthen their commitment to ‘fight for what we know is right.’ There are rallies taking place in 42 cities all over Greece in solidarity with the steelworkers.
He concluded his speech by saying that there is no other choice but to fight against the state violence. “The courageous fight with us and the fearful are enslaved. The fight of the steelworkers shows that we can win… that we can be victorious. We are committed to our cause and we will continue to exercise our duty.”
There was a show of international solidarity at the demonstration. StopCartel TV spoke to a supporter from Denmark who belongs to a group who have organized for the sole purpose of raising funds for the strikers on a regular basis. He recognized that the steelworkers’ struggle is everyone’s struggle. He added that he and his group are committed to their work to raise funds and will continue to work even harder to send more donations to the steelworkers.
Giorgos Kosmopoulos from StopCartel TV stated, “This kind of turnout (10,000 people) proves that Greece is alive and well and resisting. The Greek people have the desire to resist and are responding to the events that are happening in their daily lives. There is clearly a spirit of VICTORY here tonight!”
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