Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 21:41:07 -0600 (CST)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brian Hauk)
Subject: Greece: Workers And Students Join Rallies Against Government Austerity
ATHENS, Greece—Occupations of high schools and universities by students protesting an education “reform” law that seeks to limit entrance to universities and to weaken public education have expanded.
“Close to 1,500 schools are now under student occupation, an increase of 500 since last week,” Andreas Kilchiksis, a high school student in the area of Zografo, told the Militant. Over the previous week, demonstrations totaling nearly 50,000 students took place in Athens and dozens of other towns.
“Three days ago we got word from friendly teachers that some teachers were going to try to break into our school to end the occupation. We mobilized 80 students and the `strikebreakers' never dared to show up. That is not bad after five weeks of occupation,” continued Kilchiksis.
“Yesterday the high school students from our neighborhood joined with the university students, and about 200 of us blocked the main road in the area,” said Georgia Kafedzi, another high school student in Zografo. “Some parents came by and supported us.” These kind of demonstrations are taking place in many neighborhoods. Kilchiksis and Kafedzi were attending a concert at the occupied Department of Mathematics of the University of Athens along with another 40 or so students. Meetings and concerts are a regular feature in several university buildings.
At another school this reporter witnessed some 75 irate parents in front of a junior high school that had just voted to start an occupation. “Take these chains down, my child has a right to go to school if he wants to,” screamed one parent at the student guard outside the locked gate. “We voted by majority vote to occupy the school; no one is getting through,” explained the young woman guarding the gate, which remained sealed.
Several prominent figures have come out against the occupations, including the populist right-wing head of the Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos.
Meanwhile, several thousand people demonstrated December 15 against government austerity policies. The demonstration was called by the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the Civil Servant's Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) as part of a nationwide 24-hour strike. Among the demands were wage increases and government funding for unemployment and education.
The demonstration included the participation of thousands of high school and university students who are part of the school occupations.
According to Kilchiksis, the student coordinating committee met on December 20 and called another nationwide day of actions for January 15.