Yannis Almpanis writes: About 20,000 people demonstrated yesterday in Thessaloniki against the neoliberal policies of the Greek conservative government. It was the biggest national demonstration in Thessaloniki since the June 2003 EU summit.
Every year in early September, the Greek prime minister makes a speech in Thessaloniki about the economic policies he will followa in the coming year. And every year, social movements and trade unions demonstrate during the speech. But this year the situation was quite different. Not only was the crowd much bigger than usual (last year there were not more than 5,000 demonstrators) but the social composition of the demonstrations had also broadened.
In the streets of the Thessaloniki there were not only left-wing and no-global activists. There were also thousands of every day working people who suffer because of the government's neoliberal policies. All of these people protested against the abolition of the eight hour working day, the new wave of privatisations of public services, poverty and massive unemployment. (On Friday three more textile industries were closed and 550 workers were fired. In the last 10 years, 40,000 textile workers have lost their jobs in Greece).
The Greek Social Forum had an impressive presence at the demonstration, numbering more than 5,000 people. Today a conference was held in Thessaloniki by the Organizing Committee for the European Social Forum, which will take place in Athens in April 2006.
Yannis Almpanis is an activist of the Network for political and social rights - Greek Social Forum