Greek activist urges trade unions to resist austerity in the UK
British trade unions should resist austerity before it is too late, a Greek activist has warned.
Speaking to USi from the GLI Summer School yesterday, Dikaios Psikakos said austerity was a Europe-wide policy designed to take back power from working people.
“You must try not to have these things in their country – you must fight and be against austerity because I’m thinking, slowly, not overnight like in Greece when they cut pensions 35% in one year, in all Europe, they are trying to get the working people back.
“It is like a counter reformation,. Earlier reformations were for the good of the working people and they are trying to take it back. They must fight to stop this and this is the best way to help Greek people.
“Now is a fight for all of us, not just for the Greek people. What Europe do we want?”
Psikakos, who voted in Sunday’s referendum before flying to the UK, works for Solidarity4All, a body that supports the victims of austerity by organising social kitchens, medical clinics and time banks.
“There is a lot of unemployment, and we help people with their problems: where will they eat? where will they live? where will they stay?,” he explained.
He was still excited by the result of Sunday’s vote – an overwhelming 61% of people voted “No’ to further austerity measures.
“I was happy,’ Psikakos said. “I couldn’t believe what happened because anyone that’s not living in Greece can’t understand there was a war in communications with all the elements of the establish in line – the private TV stations, radio stations, the academics, the journalists of the rich were trying to persuade people if they say ’No’ it is the end of the world, there is the apocalypse, the second coming of Christ, that everyone will beg and it will rain fire.
“But we did not listen to them. The banks are closed, the people are afraid if they will have money next week and still they vote “No”. This, politically, is something I don’t know has happened for more than 50 years in Greece.”
He was quick to point out it was not a referendum to stay in or out of the Europe, but about what kind of Europe the Greek people wanted.
“The future continues to be a fight against the forces that confront Greece,” he said. “It’s not a fight of Greek people, what we will do with the money the next day. It’s a false way to put this.
“Our fight is over Europe. There are two perceptions of Europe. The rich wants a Europe only for the rich. It will be a party of the rich, and the poor are not invited. The unemployed, the lower classes of society will be outside of that party.
“Most working people voted ‘No’ on Sunday. In working class districts, ‘No’ took 72%. This means the workers are with ‘No’.
“But we want unity. We want the development of relationships with the people, but want to sustain what we are fighting for. Why do we want to be in Europe? Because we think of the national health system, because the salaries are higher, because there is a social security in Europe, better environmental laws in Europe, that are in Greece.
“We want to be in Europe for this, but the last five years we were going against Europe. We are looking towards Africa and the Middle East as a society, not towards Europe.”
* Dikaios Psikakos was speaking at GLI’s Summer School. You can watch the speakers live here.
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