In Greece yesterday skirmishes broke out between riot police and protesters as unions and workers stepped up their resistance to the austerity measures that the Greek Government, under pressure from the European Union, is attempting to impose.

Riot police used tear gas to force back protesters.

There have been two general strikes this week involving hundreds of thousands of workers. Not surprisingly workers have no intention to accept the burden of an economic crisis they are not responsible for.

Protesters have chanted 'Make the bosses pay”'and 'Where has all the money gone?'

The Greek Government is attempting to impose the same kind of 'structural reforms' that were imposed on African, Asian and South American countries in the 1980s with such devastating consequences for ordinary people.

Thursday's strike was called by Greece's main private sector union, GSEE, and its public sector sister union, ADEDY, which together represent half of the country's five million workers.

GSEE leader Yiannis Panagopoulos told the Associated Press: 'They are trying to make workers pay the price for this crisis,'

While the Greek union leaders show no reluctance to flex their industrial muscle when the jobs and living standards of workers are under threat, the same cannot be said for New Zealand's private and state sector unions. They have failed to put up any resistance to the Government's austerity measures and the growing job losses. Indeed they have actively colluded with the Government to ensure that redundancies are processed with a minimum of fuss and bother.

The Public Service Association's dismally limp response to the Government's austerity drive into the state sector mirrors the lack of any resistance shown by union 'leaders' in the private sector.

The PSA has simply raised the white flag and surrendered. The casualties will be the workers who lose their jobs - you won't see any PSA officials taking the long walk to Work and Income.

According to the hopeless Brenda Pilott, the national secretary of the PSA, it will be monitoring the impact of the jobs cuts. She has made no mention of actually resisting the cuts. This is simply a betrayal of the basic interests of her members.

Just as pathetic has been Labour's Darren Hughes call for Grey Power to protest the proposed cuts to the travel discount available to SuperGold card users.

Hughes, just like the Labour Party, is simply grandstanding on easy issues while all the time failing to speak out and act for workers when it really matters most.

Not only is it time to seek to create truly democratic and fighting unions but we also need to demand answers as to why the union bureaucracy continues to channel considerable amounts of money and organisational resources to a Labour Party that has shown by its own policies and actions that it is aggressively anti-working class.


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