Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras gives live reactions from the European Parliament during the 2014 Euro elections. Photo: European Union 2014 - European Parliament, under creative commons licence.
Union reactions to Syriza’s victory
Unions around the world have welcomed the election result in Greece last Sunday, because the victory of the anti-austerity Syriza party was a rejection of the policies that have dominated Europe since the financial crisis hit, and a rejection of the anti-democratic approach of the European elite. It also demonstrated that the Greek people were better able to identify the correct economic path than the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF.
Although the Greek trade union movement had protested month after month since austerity was imposed on Greece, during 2014, the appetite for mass protests had declined. But in the autumn, protests commenced anew, including a new General Strike in November for the first time in over six months. The new government moved swiftly to meet Greek trade union demands such as restoring the value of the minimum wage.
Before the election, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady signalled her support for Syriza’s challenge to austerity. And afterwards, one time Portuguese Labour Minister Maria Helena Andre (now Director of the workers’ bureau at the ILO) welcomed the victory for showing that Europe’s citizens could vote for an alternative that was different from that of the extreme right.
Leslie Manasseh and Frances O’Grady also co-signed a letter that appeared in Monday’s Guardian, calling for “repudiation of some [of Greece’s debt] and repayment of the rest linked to economic growth, to give creditors a stake in growing the economy.”
But we know the Greek government will face huge challenges, and international, as well as domestic, opposition. TUC President Leslie Manasseh, speaking at a Greece Solidarity Campaign rally a few days after the election, said:
“Syriza’s ability to reverse austerity and the social crisis it has caused will depend on maintaining public support in Greece, and on the support we can mobilize around the rest of Europe. But the Greek people have embarked on a new path – one that clearly rejects austerity and puts the people, not the markets, centre stage.”