Friday, February 05, 2010
The Greeks Strike Against Government Policy: Why Don't We?
Greek tax collectors and customs officials went on strike on Thursday, beginning a spate of anticipated strikes in the country to protest at government budget plans.
Revenue employees began a two-day walk out, which comes ahead of strikes planned by civil servants and doctors on February 10. A general strike could take place later this month, if agreed by members of the country's main private sector union GSEE which has 600,000 members.
Unions are angry with the government over an austerity program to cut back the country's huge deficit from 12.7 percent last year to less than 3 percent by 2012.
Members of the GSEE are expected to approve a February 24 strike date recommended by union head Yiannis Panagopoulos. "I deeply regret that the government has bowed to the wishes of the markets," said Panagopoulos on Wednesday.
Public sector unions ADEDY has called a nationwide strike on February 10 to protest against a wage and hiring freeze.
In December, several thousands of people walked through Athens to protest against proposed cuts.
This is a great example of an escalation path from protest to increasingly large strikes across multiple sectors. I firmly believe that we could use a very similar approach to HCR.
Why don't we? In large part probably because the divide-and-conquer embodied in the Senate bill has worked exactly as intended. Labor, which would be one logical organizing force, got what it wanted and then demobilized. Other constituencies got goodies as well, so are less motivated to fight the bill and instead say, "yes, it's bad, but there are some important things in here so we should just pass something."
Whether HR3962 actually gets out of the House as is, is "fixed" via reconciliation with the Subtitle B public insurance option and/or other popular provisions restored, or suffers a grisly death in the sausage machine, we've still got lots of work to achieve real reform. So how can we follow the Greek example and get Americans to be more invested in HCR, more actively engaged and more willing to take risks when this issue impacts us all, not just the 45k who die every year from lack of insurance?
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