Youth protests, strikes keep rocking Greece, spread to France

Activists called for protests across Europe on Dec. 18 in solidarity with the uprising in Greece, unfurling banners at the base of Athens’ landmark Acropolis urging international demonstrations and declaring “Resistance” in several languages. In the northwestern Greek city of Ioannina, some youths took over the town hall for several hours, while others seized the main local radio station and started broadcasting their own programs.

A student march is scheduled for Thursday the 18th against a European Union agreement for a crackdown on immigration. Greek police arrested a number of undocumented immigrants in Athens Dec. 17, accusing them of pillaging. But protesters denounced the move, and called on the foreigners to join their cause.

Several thousand activists from the left-wing PAME trade union also marched in Athens behind a banner reading: “The plutocracy must pay for the crisis!” The civil service trade union ADEDY is planning a three-hour work stoppage Thursday, three days before Greek lawmakers vote on the budget. Unions have called on supporters to gather before the parliament on Friday.

The offices of the General Confederation of Labor (GSEE) remains under occupation by dissident workers who demand that union close ranks with the youth protests. Students also continue their occupation of Athens Polytechnic, and an estimated 600 schools and universities across the country. (AFP, NYT, Dec. 17)

Meanwhile, protests against education reforms swept across France despite an announcement earlier this week by the government that it would postpone changes to the secondary school curriculum indefinitely. At least 38 were arrested in clashes with police in Lyon, where young protesters threw rocks, damaged cars, set fire to trash cans and smashed bus shelters. About 200 students briefly blocked a high-speed train line in the main station at the nearby city of Dijon. Police in Paris used tear gas in clashes on the margins of a massive protest in the old student quarter near the Luxembourg gardens.

Education Minister Xavier Darcos agreed to postpone the reforms—which would cut classroom hours and slash 13,500 education jobs—following protests that turned violent last week, amid fears of social unrest modelled on the Greek movement. (AlJazeera, Dec. 18)

See our last posts on the Greece and France.

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