The Greek government has outlawed a teachers strike set to begin on May 17. The government signed a civil mobilization order banning the strike, something that previously had only been used in times of national emergencies, according the WSWS. This is the first time the tactic has been used preemptively before a strike has even started. Workers who violate the order are subject to being fired, arrested and jailed.
Since the imposition of austerity in 2008, the Greek government has relied on such heavy handed tactics to crush any opposition and keep the public in line. Civil mobilization orders, with the support of riot police, were used to violently suppress strikes by subway, rail and tram workers earlier this year. The teachers’ strike ban follows the Greek government’s latest deal with the European Commission, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank, attacking teachers’ pay and benefits, and working conditions (including the demand they work an extra two hours per week without pay). 10,000 teachers also face being laid off, according to the WSWS.
So far, no civil mobilization order has been defied by the unions, thus encouraging the government to continue making anti-worker deals with the IMF and European Central Bank. However, thousands of people did demonstrate against the civil mobilization on Monday and teachers voted this week whether to defy the mobilization orders and strike. Preliminary results indicate that the majority of teachers do indeed wish to strike, despite the threat of being fired and sent to prison for 5 years. However, according to the WSWS, the public service trade union federation (ADEDY) will not support the teachers and has undermined attempts by its members to protest the mobilization order.
Looked at in isolation, the strike ban in Greece seems like an autocratic attack on democratic rights, which it is. However, similar events are taking place throughout Europe and elsewhere, indicating a concerted effort by governments to extract concessions and givebacks on behalf of an employing class that wants everyone but themselves to pay for their economic crisis. In Denmark, for example, 70,000 teachers were recently locked out for resisting attacks on their working conditions, while teachers in Mexico and public sector workers in Turkey have been accused of terrorism and imprisoned for similar resistance. In the U.S. teachers strikes are banned in many states, while Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has used the state to take over several school districts and impose dictatorial financial managers with the power to remove unions and fire elected officials.