2014 - 2015
Solidarity for All
building hope against fear and devastation
4 years of resistance and solidarity
74, Akadimias str., 106 78 Athens - tel.: +30 210-38.01.921 f/b: Solidarity 4 All - e-mail: email@example.com Bank Account: ΙΒΑΝ GR5901100400000004048343562 BIC ETHNGR AA
02 Dear Friends: The saga of the Greek crisis has reached a critical point once again, dominating the attention of the global economic, political and media elites. We write this report as Greece heads into national elections after the collapse of the third pro-Troika government. However, this time the possibility of Greece breaking with the neo-liberal assault on the European people is sending shock waves through the centres of EU finance and governance. Their resorting to the 2012 script of threats, not only against the Greek people but also against their own people, in order to terrorize and extort their vote by any means, only demonstrates that fear has changed sides. Despite the soothing claims that the markets are now protected from a possible Grexit and/or from a write down of part of the Greek debt, what they fear is the contamination of the political message that the “undisciplined” Greeks could send to other countries, most notably to the bailed out, austerity ridden and deregulated countries of the European periphery. In this context, our report aims on one hand to provide an update on the devastating effects of the radical neo-liberal experiment on Greek society, and on the other, to inform the international community by highlighting another experiment: that of Greek society taking action through self-organisation and solidarity, of people standing up and resisting their economic and political “saviours”. We want, and also need, to counter the campaign of political terror and blackmailing which aims to scapegoat Greece
and keep it in the straightjacket of the markets and the dominant political elites, by revealing the dire consequences of a country unravelling, as a democracy and society as a whole. To provide not opinions, but facts, which count the human cost of the (now forgotten, but promoted just few weeks ago) lie of GRecovery. But mostly, we want to stand in the paradigm of hope that the Greek people - and indeed not on their own, but in resonance with the social uprisings around the Mediterranean basin and the world– have given life to in the last four years. To inform you about the grassroots social solidarity movement that has built a network of resistance against mass deprivation while simultaneously implementing innovative ways of participation and self-organisation. An invaluable phenomenon, which is nurturing processes of deeper social transformation. Of course the social solidarity movement comprises just one of the threads of the resistance movement in Greece. Amongst the many large and small struggles active in these years, we should note the campaign of the 595 female cleaners sacked from the Finance Ministry, other public sector workers who oppose their forced redundancies, the workers of ERT, Greece’s national public broadcaster, who have continued to broadcast TV and radio through self-management; the residents of Skouries who oppose gold mining in the Halkidiki region of northern Greece. These struggles have kept alive the last two years the attempt to overthrow the “state of exception” imposed by the Troika regime, fighting exploitation for real democracy and social justice.
Part 1 - The human cost of the(ir) “success story” The 2013 Global Misery Index Scores, produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit, lists Greece in the 10th place amongst 90 countries with regard to the highest level of deprivation in that year1. In that same year, according to Wealth-X research group of the global rich, there were 505 super-rich Greeks in 2013, fifty more than in 2012, representing just 0.005% of the Greek population and owning a property totaling 60 billion euros, 10 million more than in 20122. It is obvious that the “success story” or “GRecovery” excludes more than 99% of Greek society. The “achievements” of “saving” and restructuring the(ir) economy have come at the expense of jobs, incomes, public and private property and the rights of the vast majority of Greek residents, through a massive enterprise of “accumulation by dispossession” or simply put: looting.
Loss of jobs and employment The 273.7% increase in unemployment since 2009 is the most damning feature of the effects of the bailout program. From 9.5% in 2009, the national unemployment rate peaked at 27.9% in 2013 before dropping slightly to 26% in late 2014.
1 Publicized by Cato Institute, retrieved from http://left.gr/news/stis-deka-hores-me-ti-megalyteri-exathliosi-pagkosmios-i-ellada#sthash.RBG2Lz0v.dpuf , 28/04/2014. 2 Μαντικίδης Τάσος, 505 Ελληνες διαθέτουν περιουσία 60 δισ. ευρώ, retrieved from http://www.tovima.gr/finance/ article/?aid=535599, 20/10/2013.
04 The picture is even bleaker considering that the majority of the population in Greece is jobless. In 2013 the percentage of those between 20 – 64 years old in employment was only 51.3%, compared with 66.5% in 20083. In November 2014, the total number of unemployed was 1.242.219 people compared with 3.551.148 in employment. If we include the economically inactive population the figure rises to 3.334.759 people, meaning that the 56.3% of the population are out of work. At the same time as this record drop in employment occurred in Greece, in Germany the employment rate increased from 74% in 2008 to 77.1% in 20134, in contrast with the rest of EU countries. Unemployment rate Percentage of people in employment (20 – 64 y.o.) Long term unemployment rate Percentage of unemployed receiving benefits Youth (15–24) unemployment rate Public sector layoffs 2010 - 2014 Jobs lost between 2008 – 2013
2009 2014 9.5% 26% increase: 273.7% 2008 2013 66.5% 51.3% 2009 2014 43% 72% 2008 2014 58% 14% 2008 2013 21% 59% 675.000 - 20% of public sector workers 988.000
The cuts in public spending included the unemployment benefit, which was reduced from 450 to 360 euros per month. Most importantly, the percentage of those receiving the unemployment benefit dropped from 58% (of the registered unemployed) in 2008 to just 14% in 20145. This explains the huge rise in long-term unemployment, as the unemployed in Greece only receive benefits for the first year after losing their job. More specifically, long-term unemployment increased to 72% in 2014, up from 43% in 2009. One of the most serious consequences of long term unemployment is the loss of the right to access public health care services, as one needs to have worked 50 days every year in order to renew his or her registration, and if unemployed, is covered for only one year. As many
3 Report of the Bank of Greece, in http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231299425, 27/02/2014, & Greek Statistics (ELSTAT) in http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231302921, 13/03/2014 and in http://news.in.gr/economy/ article/?aid=1231363407, 13/11/2014. 4 Eurostat: Στο 53,2% συρρικνώθηκε η απασχόληση στην Ελλάδα το 2013, retrieved from http://news.in.gr/economy/ article/?aid=1231320318, 19/05/2014. 5 INE/GSEE, Ανεργία στο 23% το 2020, εξαερώνεται το εισόδημα των νοικοκυριών, in http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231345124, 04/09/2014, and OAED (Greek Job Centre), in http://news.in.gr/economy/ article/?aid=1231375747, 08/01/2015, and Greek Statistics (ELSTAT).
05 family members are also dependent on the father’s or mother’s social security in order to access public health care, this has resulted in more than 2.5 million people losing their social security status. Last but not least, the steep rise in unemployment is higher for women (31.7% in 2013) than men, 24.4% the same year.
Youth However by far the highest rate of joblessness is amongst Greek youth. According to Unicef, youth unemployment skyrocketed from 21% in 2008 to 59% in 2013, “retreating” to 50% in late 20146. This has left 44.5% (2012) of the youth aged between 15-29 below the poverty line or at severe risk of social exclusion, compared with 30.9% in 2008. 25.8% (2012) of the same group could not meet their basic needs, a doubling of the 2008 rate of 12.8%7. Moreover, according to the Unicef report, the youth (15-24 year olds) not in education, employment or training (nEET) has almost doubled, rising to 20.6% in 2013 from 11.7% in 2008. No wonder large numbers of Greek youth has been forced to emigrate. The numbers leaving Greece increased by 30% between 2010 and 2012, accordingly to the Greek Federation of Trade Unions (GSEE)8, in a “brain drain” from Greece to the richest EU countries.
Wage – Pensions – Income Reduction Since the austerity measures were introduced, Greek households have seen a loss of more than one third of their incomes. The average wage decreased by 38% in 2014 compared with 2009, while pensions in 6 Unicef report 2014, Children of the recession: the impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries, in www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc12-eng-web.pdf and Eurostat, in http://news.in.gr/economy/ article/?aid=1231375630, 07/01/2015. 7 Eφημερίδα των Συντακτών, 5/05/2014, p.5. 8 GSEE, Επτά στους δέκα ανέργους μένουν εκτός για πάνω από έναν χρόνο, in http://news.in.gr/economy/ article/?aid=1231353662, 07/10/2014.
06 the same period were reduced by 45%9. Equally important to the rate of declining incomes and the social position of wage earners, is the increase of those employed in non-secure jobs, which has risen to 9.5% of the total number of employees in 2014, up from 7.7% in 2010. In addition, about one third of private sector workers, that is about 500.000 people, are earning 300 euros net wage (gross 440) per month, accordingly to research by the Greek Trade Union Federation10. This has resulted, as ELSTAT (Greek Statistics) highlights, in the emergence of “a new category of “working poor” with 10.7% of those in full time employment at risk of poverty, while the respective percentage for the precariously employed is 27%.”11 Wage reduction 2009 – 2014 Pensions reduction 2009 – 2013 Drop of households’ income 2007 – 2012 (- 4.400 euro per household) Overdue Mortgages
38% 45% 30% 2008 2013 5% 25% increase 400%
Rising Cost of Living – Over Taxation – Indebtedness Despite the loss of a third of the average income, the cost of living in Greece remains proportionally the highest in the EU. As the Detailed Average Price Report of the European Commission has shown, a shopping basket with 20 basic products in Greece cost a total of 63.4 euros or 10.81% of the nominal lower wage (586 euros) in November 2013, while a Portuguese worker whose wage also has been reduced to 485 euros under austerity, pays 46.48 euros or 9.58% of the monthly wage for the same basics12. At the same time, the average monthly expenses of Greek households has contracted by 31.2% (694.2 euros), from 2203.55 euros in 2009 to 1509.39 in 201313. The ex-
9 Eφημερίδα των Συντακτών, 5/05/2014, p.5 10 ΤΑ ΝΕΑ, retrieved from http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231347538, 15/09/2014. 11 Research of Labor Force - Greek Statistics (ELSTAT), in http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231302921, 13/05/2014, in http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231355306, 13/10/2014, and in http://news.in.gr/economy/ article/?aid=1231372034, retrieved 18/12/2014. 12 Published in http://news.in.gr/greece/article/?aid=1231294239,10/02/2014. 13 Thanasis Eliodromitis, Οι στατιστικές της φρίκης: Μια «ακτινογραφία» των συνεπειών της πολιτικής των μνημονίων, retrieved from http://www.imerodromos.gr/statistikes-frikis/, 31/12/2014.
07 treme economic stress has left hundreds of thousands of people unable to meet their financial commitments. More than 700.000 households requested a payment settlement with DEI (public electricity company) for overdue bills in 2012, 57.1% more than in 2011 (400.000), according to Mr. Zervos, CEO of DEI. That resulted in power cuts to 237.806 premises, more than 80% being residential, between January – September 2013. Moreover, rising petrol prices due to overtaxation forced 8 in 10 block of flats in Greece to remain without heating fuel, and consequently without heating, in the same year, according to the president of the Consumers Institute, Mr. Lehouritis14. In the period 2008 – 2013 the burden of private debt has increased by 10% according to the European Commission15. What’s more, one in two freelance professionals cannot pay their social security contributions, with 31.8% having overdue payments to banks, while 1 in 4 companies owe money for rent and to their suppliers16. The same proportion of taxpayers, that is, 2.45 million people, became indebted to the tax office between January 2013 and August 201417. This led to a steep rise in instances of deposits being confiscated directly from personal bank accounts, not only without people’s permission but also without them even being informed by the tax office or the banks. According to Mr. Theoharis, former general secretary of Public Revenue, bank account confiscations have risen from 18000 in 2013, to 50000 in the first two months of 201418, while between December 2013 and May 2014 more than 586 houses were re-possessed and 160 more were foreclosed by the Greek state19. As overdue mortgage payments to the bank sector rose by 400% in 5 years, from 5% in 2008 to 25% in 201320 and the foreclosure ban lifted, allowing banks to confiscate even the primary residence of the mortgaged home owner, 280000 households are threatened with losing their home.
Deprivation and poverty21 However shocking these facts are in showing the reality of deprivation in Greece, the real picture of poverty may be even worse, as the following research claims: “Over 44%
14 ΑPΕ-ΜPΕ, in http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231278488, 05/12/2013. 15 AME-MPE, in http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231355627, 14/10/2014. 16 TA NEA, OAEE: Οι μισοί ασφαλισμένοι αδυνατούν να πληρώσουν τις εισφορές, retrieved from http://news.in.gr/ economy/article/?aid=1231337436, 28/07/2014, and GSEVEE (Greek Federation of Traders and Businessmen) in http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231344667, 03/09/2014. 17 Published in http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231352875, 03/10/2014. 18 TA NEA, retrieved from http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231309435, 7/04/2014. 19 Published in http://news.in.gr/greece/article/?aid=1231316396, 06/05/2014. 20 Eφημερίδα των Συντακτών, 5/05/2014, p.5. 21 Eurostat: Το 34,6% των Ελλήνων βρίσκεται ή απειλείται από τη φτώχεια, in http://news.in.gr/greece/ article/?aid=1231278508, 05/12/2013, ΕLSTAT - Έρευνα Εισοδήματος και Συνθηκών Διαβίωσης and Eφημερίδα των Συντακτών, 5/05/2014, p.5.
08 of the Greek population had an income below the poverty line in 2013 according to estimates by the Public Policy Analysis Group of the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB)… The AUEB researchers also found that last year 14% of Greeks earned incomes below the basic standard of living, compared with 2% of the population four years ago.”22 Within the EU, Greece had the largest proportion of its population living on very low incomes, at 23.1% in 2013, with Romania in the second place (22.4%) and Bulgaria third with 21%. This means that in the same year, 20.3% of the population in Greece cannot meet their basic needs, compared with 9.6% in the EU as a whole23. According to the 2013 annual report of the OECD, in 2012 17.9% of the population in Greece could not meet its basic food needs, compared with 8.9% in 2007, and the 13.2% average for the OECD countries in 201324. Poverty rate Percentage in poverty or risk of social exclusion Greece EU Persons in poverty or in risk of social exclusion Youth (15-29 y.o.) in poverty or in risk of social exclusion Population that cannot afford food needs Greece EU
2008 23% 2008 28.1%
2012 32.3% 2013 35.7%
23.8% 2011 3.403.300 2008 30.9% 2007 8.9% 11.2%
24.5% 2013 3.903.800 2012 44.5% 2012 17.9% 13.2%
Children25 According to the 2014 Unicef report, Children of the recession: the impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries, a “Great Leap Backward” has occurred in Greece, back to the conditions of 2000, a sacrificing of 14 years of progress 22 Καθημερινή, http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite2_1_06/01/2014_534747, 6/01/2014. 23 Eurostat, in http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231360954, 04/11/2014 24 http://www.oecd.org/greece/OECD-SocietyAtaGlance2014-Highlights-Greece.pdf 25 Unicef report 2014: Children of the recession: the impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries, in www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc12-eng-web.pdf and Εφημερίδα των Συντακτών , 5/05/2014, p.5.
09 made for families with children, due to recession, austerity and cuts to public spending. From 2011 – 2012 the numbers of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion have risen from 30.4% to 35.4%. The same report places Greece first in child poverty rates, which reached 40.5% in 2012, but second in rate of change, behind Iceland. This means that 686.000 children live under the poverty line or on the brink of social exclusion. Most at risk of poverty (at 74.7%) are children living in single-parent families, while 13.2%, that is 292.000 children, in 2012 lived in families with no employed adult. The equivalent number in 2008 was just 88.000, more than three times lower. Thus 21% of children live in conditions of severe material deprivation, more than double than in 2008. This means, amongst other indicators, poor nutrition (consumption of meat, fish or vegetables), while 20% (2012) of children remain unvaccinated due to exclusion of their parents from the public health care system. Thus for first time in the post-WWII period, the rate of infant mortality increased at a rate of 14% from 2008 – 2012, with experts forecasting a decrease in life expectancy of between 2 to 3 years26. 2008 2012 Change in child poverty 23% 40.5% Change in severe child material 10% 21% deprivation Children living with both parents 88.000 292.000 unemployed 2003 2011 Children mortality (deaths per 1000 births) 6.3‰ 9‰ Not vaccinated children 2012: 20%
Recession By 2014, Greece’s GDP has shrunk by more than a quarter since 2008. As the report of GSEVEE (Federation of the Greek Merchants and Businessmen) states: “Both the depth and the length of the recession are unprecedented for the Western world in the post-WW2 period”.27 Since the beginning of the crisis, according to the same GSEVEE survey, more than 230.000 (almost 28%) businesses shut down, while revenue decreased by 75%. While Greece’s public debt increased by 36.5% from 2007 - 2013, the disposable income of Greek households decreased by 57.47%, from 174 billion euros in 2008 to 100 billion in 2013 - or about 10.000 euros per capita28. Similarly, the savings of households and businesses alike shrank by 32.20% between 2009 and early 2014, while domestic consumer spending dropped by 31%. 26 Kυριακατικη Ε, ‘Ελληνα ακόμα (πώς) ζει;, 20/01/2013 27 GSEVEE, in http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231344667, 03/09/2014 28 ibid.
10 GDP 2008 – 2013: - 26.2% (- 64.7 bil. € ) 2007 235.37 bil.€ Public debt as percentage of 2010 the GDP 146% Disposable income 2008 174 bil.€ Households’ spending capacity 2009 – 2013 Productivity 2003 – 2013 Volume of Production 2009 – 2013 Cost of production 2009 – 2013 Per unit cost of production 2010 – 2013 Industrial production Oct. 2008 – Oct. 2013 Businesses that closed 2010 – 2013
2013 321.48 bil. € 2013 174,90% 2013 100 bil.€ -37,20% -8,80% -23,50% -13,90% -23,90% - 24,3% 30%
Cuts in public spending and health services Cuts in public expenditure have strongly affected the quality of, and access to, health services in Greece. Between 2009 and 2011 the ‘per capita expenditure’ for health was reduced by 11.1 % according to the OECD, and public spending in health dropped 3.7% between 2007 – 2011, according to the ILO World Social Protection Report 2014/15. Public spending for medicine reimbursement dropped by 56%, from 5.1 billion euros in 2009 to 2.2 billion in 2012, a development that led to an increase of up to 70% in payment contributions for medicines, for patients covered by social security, according to Mr. Evgenidis, secretary of the Pharmacist Association of Thessaloniki. The savage cuts and wholesale restructuring of the public health care system have led to the closing of entire hospitals and clinics, the loss of medical staff and nationwide medicine shortages. These changes have considerably restricted the capacities of public health providers to deliver services, at a time when demand for them has risen, due to the worsening of the financial standing of the general population. But the most severe problem is the exclusion of more than 3.3 million people29 from the public health care system. According to the 29 Χρήστος Δεμέτης, Σεπτέμβριος 20/09/2013, Ανασφάλιστοι πάνω από τρία εκατομμύρια Έλληνες, reitrieved from http://news247.gr/eidiseis/koinonia/ygeia/anasfalistoi-panw-apo-tria-ekatommuria-ellhnes.2420059.html and
11 president of EOPPY (National Organisation of Health Care Services) 306 8000 people have dropped off the social security register, due to their inability to keep up with payment contributions, or because they lost their jobs, closed their companies, or became unemployed for more than a year, as mentioned above. This means that one third (33.2%, see chart) of the population of Greece is without social insurance, to which should also be added the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants and refugees. People without social insurance in 2013 3.068.000 or 33.2% of the total population Social expenditure (€ mil.) 2009 2012 change Maternity allowance 470 400 -14,9% Family allowance 722 552 -23,5% Birth allowance 100 48 -52,0% Sickness allowance 1,102 1,010 -8,3% Hospital care subsidy 7,588 5,270 -30,5% Extra-hospital health-care subsidies 7,838 5,110 -34,8% Unemployment benefit 1,611 1,423 -11,7% Disabled allowance 1,515 1,276 -15,8% change 2012 2009 - 2012 Bereavement 546 mil. € -10,5% Housing 677 mil. € -58,6% Social exclusion 112 mil. € -8,3% Resources: ILO World Social Protection Report 2014/15, http://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/worldsocial-security-report/2014/lang--en/index.htm and Th. Eliodromitis, Οι στατιστικές της φρίκης Μια «ακτινογραφία» των συνεπειών της πολιτικής των μνημονίων, 31/12/2014, http://www.imerodromos.gr/statistikes-frikis/
The distress caused by the rapid deterioration of the Greek economy has contributed to significant increases in rates of depression and suicide (see chart). According to the NGO Klimaka, it is estimated that the real number of suicides is much higher, as many remain undocumented. The largest percentage (35%) of those who call the suicide prevention help-line are unemployed, followed by freelance professionals and pensioners30. Suicide rates 2007 - 2011 Number of suicides 2007 - 2011 Depression rate in general population
+43% 3,124 2008 3,30%
http://www.enet.gr/?i=news.el.article&id=387049. 30 ΕΛΣΤΑΤ, Κατά 43% αυξήθηκαν οι αυτοκτονίες στην Ελλάδα το 2011 σε σχέση με το 2007, 09 Σεπ. 2013, http://news. in.gr/greece/article/?aid=1231264228.
12 Immigrants and refugees One of the big deficits in the official statistics is the exclusion of data concerning undocumented immigrants and refugees in Greece, a fluctuating population estimated at between 600.000 and 1 million people. The precarious living conditions of this part of the population, who are also being scapegoated and targeted by neo-Nazis, has taken a big toll on their daily life experience in Greece. Accordingly to Unicef “the poverty risk among the immigrants reached 43,7% in 2012, (almost 8% higher than for the Greeks), while the percentage for their children is even higher, 53.1% compared with 49.6% a year earlier” to add that “poverty rates rose by 35 percentage points for children in migrant households, compared with 15 percentage points for all other children.” 31 Simlarly the unemployment rate for those of non-Greek origin is 36.2%, much higher than the 26.8% for Greeks (2013)32. At the same time, due to the increasing tensions and war in the Middle East mainly, in 2014 a considerable increase (up by 223% compared with 2013) of refugees and asylum seekers have arrived in Greece33. In this environment and alongside the political establishment exploiting peoples’ frustrations, fear and anger created by the crisis and auserity measures, racist attacks against immigrants peaked at 160 documented incidents committed against 320 immigrants and refugees. However 75 of these attacks were executed by far right extremists while in 44 cases the perpetrators were from the security and police forces, while most of the victims were from Bangladesh (164), Afghanistan (51) and Pakistan (11)34. The crackdown on the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party after the murder of the anti-fascist and rapper Pavlos Fyssas in September 2013, while it did not eradicate the threat and actions of fascist street thugs, it contributed considerably to the easing of racist attacks. 31 Unicef report 2014: Children of the recession: the impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries. 32 ELSTAT, 2013, 13 Μαρ. 2014, http://news.in.gr/economy/article/?aid=1231302921. 33 In.gr, 08 Οκτ. 2014, http://news.in.gr/greece/article/?aid=1231354049 34 Δίκτυο Καταγραφής Περιστατικών Ρατσιστικής Βίας. 02/04/2014, http://news.in.gr/greece/ article/?aid=1231308414
Part 2 - The grassroots solidarity movement: source of dignity – networks of inspiration The grassroots social solidarity movement is one of the most important developments and forms of resistance and people’s self-organisation to emerge in the last four years. The more distant roots of this movement can be traced to the antiglobalisation movement, the defence of public spaces by local communities, to the growing culture of self-organised social centres and the ‘no pay’ campaigns against road tolls, public transport costs and extremely high prices in basic goods. However, the transformative experiences that triggered the rise of the solidarity movement were the multifarious struggles of Greek society against the Troika and the bailout programs, especially the occupation of the squares in the summer of 2011. This genuinely grassroots movement, in which 28% of Greek society participated, played a pivotal role in popularising a culture of self-organisation, people’s assemblies and direct democracy as a tool for decision making processes. It was a political movement, waged by the people themselves, against the “state of exception” – the forced imposition of austerity and deregulation dictated by the so-called Troika of lenders and facilitated by the Greek political elites. Thus, after the Greek parliament passed the austerity bills and restructuring programs (summer and fall 2011), the resistance against their implementation continued in the neighbourhoods. The hugely popular ‘no pay’ campaign against the additional property tax (a form of poll tax included in the electricity bill, which if you don’t pay your electricity is cut) was the first step, followed by the solidarity campaign for the steel-workers’ occupation of their factory, Elliniki Chalyvourgia. At the same time, many groups of local activists and common people kick started solidarity structures all over the country, organising resistance around the basic needs of the people in their communities. In the beginning of 2012, many solidarity groups formed. They reconnected electricity, organised “without middlemen” distribution of agricultural produce, solidarity healthcare clinics and solidarity tutoring programs, examples of solidarity action tangible and easy to do, which many more people then collectively took on. It was the start of the grass roots social solidarity movement in its current form. After four years of recession and two years of Troika-
14 led changes, the toll of the social crisis has brought sections of the Greek population to the verge of humanitarian crisis. As the data above shows, this catastrophic trend continued and accelerated considerably after 2012, with the implementation of even harsher measures by the multi-party coalition governments, sinking Greek society deeper into poverty. In this context, collectively facing the consequences of austerity became fundamental, not merely to survival and human dignity, but to organising political struggles aimed at overthrowing the memoranda policies and regime. Moreover, by creating a different kind of social relationship between people, by fostering participation and real democracy and by practicing self-management in various areas of social and economic life, the solidarity movement has managed to become one of the most important, innovative, and hopeful outcomes of the peoplesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; mobilisation and resistance. In September 2012 there were about 180 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 200 self-organised solidarity structures in Greece, compared with almost 400 today. Solidarity structures are active in the areas of health, food, education and culture, housing and debt, legal support, social and alternative economy, workers and immigrantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; solidarity, and international solidarity. The solidarity structures are organised as open assemblies with horizontal decision-making processes. In this way, they function as spaces for real democratic and self-organising practices, aiming to enhance the participation and contribution of all on an equal basis - both those yet able to donate but mainly by energising those who approach the solidarity structures because they are in need. It is important to note that participation is the leading principle in the practice of grassroots solidarity and the main source of its resources. The use of money from the solidarity movement is extremely limited and is restricted mainly to covering utility bills and rents. By asking donations in kind the solidarity movement not only restricts the use of money, but develops a tactic to include those offering in the practice of solidarity, that is in the effort of buying and bringing to the solidarity structure or share what one has, as opposed to the charity. Food stuffs, medicines, equipment, clothes, furniture etc., as well as professional skills are all offered voluntarily or collected as donations from individuals, unions, local shops, or solidarity events. No money transactions exist in the solidarity movement, thus fostering a culture of sharing and mutual assistance. This practice of participation and mobilisation of society in order to respond to its needs, along with its outspoken political identity and aims, is what radically differentiates the solidarity movement from philanthropy, charities (religious or secular), NGOs and state funded social services. Each solidarity structure is formed,
15 initially at least, around one main field of action, but very soon spreads into other areas, according to the most pressing needs of its participants, or to the new frontlines of the austerity assault. Thus a food solidarity structure may also collect medicine for the solidarity health clinic in the next borough, organise a campaign against home evictions, support people whose electricity has been cut, and/or, provide solidarity tutorials in education for the children of poor families in its local area. In this way each structure becomes a node where the various needs and activities of the community meet. Furthermore, as the rapidly growing consequences of the bailout memoranda started taking their toll on Greek society, the solidarity structures were the first ones to feel the pressure of the millions of unemployed, who are without social insurance and living under the poverty line. It is not coincidence that the vast majority of those active in the solidarity movement are unemployed or precariously employed people while the percentage of women’s participation is over 60%. A fact that makes them the backbone of the affective politics of the solidarity movement, so precious and fundamental in working within the local communities. In order to respond to their growing needs and amplify their effectiveness, and also stave off attacks from the state, private business interests and fascists, the solidarity structures started forming more stable networks. This was done either on the basis of their common field of action, such as the solidarity clinics’ coordination that operates nationally and in Attica (where Athens is located), the network of workers’ cooperatives, meetings of the “without middlemen” movement; or by connecting regionally and activating localised networks (such as in Pireaus, western Athens, etc.) The presence of such networks of solidarity, and their contribution in creating new social bonds where unemployment and deprivation destroy the social fabric, have
16 acted as an effective deterrent against racism and fascism, as fields of common action by and for all. In this way, the solidarity movement has emerged as a positive social experiment within the ruins of the crisis. It outlines a political culture, which through its own infrastructure creates the conditions and potential practices of commons to address public needs. A movement organised around everyday needs, which highlights the importance of addressing the humanitarian crisis as a field of political resistance and suggests a new kind of social relationship and collective subjects. At the same time, it is a movement that does not underestimate, but rather is part of, the political struggle to overthrow the financial dictatorship of the Troika and the “post-democratic” political system that supports it. As one member of a solidarity assembly put it “the same people who take the loaf of bread with one hand, hold a banner with the other which reads: “Oust the Troika”. Its objective is not to substitute the collapsing public welfare system, or to only build alternatives within a system of inequalities. On the contrary, it seeks to contribute to the development of a different concept and response to people’s common needs - for everyone and with the participation of everyone - by instigating practices, spaces and processes that will facilitate change at every level, from the bottom up. A practice where ideas are put into action and thereby tested, spawn a whole repertoire of experience, with potentially emancipatory and empowering possibilities. The solidarity movement acknowledges that its potential for social transformation goes hand in hand with the fight for political change. Without the latter, that is, the changes needed for the eradication of social inequalities and exclusion, the paradigm of grassroots social organisation may become merely an alternative within a framework of generalised poverty. In that sense the experience and produced know-how of the solidarity movement constitutes one of the most valuable inputs against the demise of democracy, austerity and the collapse of the welfare system. A paradigm which can radically inform (and transform) the implemented social policies, having as backbone processes of popular participation and decision making. It is this prospect that holds the potential for imagining post-capitalist transformative and creative social capabilities that goes beyond the bailouts and the crisis.
17 Health Solidarity Solidarity Health Centres: 40 (16 in Attica and 24 in the rest Greece) Volunteers in 16 health centres in Attica: 750 (median 46 per solidarity clinic) Visits per month in 16 health centres in Attica: 2000 per clinic The first social solidarity clinic was created with the aim of providing health services to undocumented immigrants and refugees. In 2011, networks of doctors were also organised in a few areas, to begin treating patients that had lost their social insurance. In order to counter the phenomenon of mass exclusion from the public health care system that grew rapidly from 2012 onwards, doctors, nursing staff and other volunteers started social clinics and pharmacies. From only 3 in September 2012 (in Athens, Thessaloniki and Rethimnon, Crete) today there are 40 functioning all over Greece. The last restructuring (and partial privatisation) of public health care services that brought a steep rise in patientsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; contribution for medicines and hospital treatment, has forced the solidarity clinics to also treat cases of people with social insurance unable to afford the cost of their medical treatment. The development of health solidarity indicates the willingness of ordinary people and unemployed medical staff to build structures of solidarity, to help Greek society to cope with the devastating and dangerous consequences of austerity and the liquidation of the public welfare system, by providing primary health services and medicines. In addition, each solidarity clinic, and other solidarity structures, is supported by a loose network of local doctors that also treat patients for free in their private clinics. More importantly, the solidarity clinics demand and are connected with units of public and private hospitals and private medical laboratories willing to treat the most serious health cases for free. As with the rest of the solidarity movement, the social clinics provide mon-
18 eyless services and everyone works shifts on a strict voluntary basis. Similarly, the medicines come from the donations of ordinary people that have spare medicines or who donate new ones. Many other solidarity structures, e.g. food structures, or the “without middlemen” initiatives, collect medicines that they hand in to their local solidarity clinic. This campaign of medicine collection has become so successful that in quite a few cases the solidarity pharmacies have provided medicine to public hospitals facing shortages. In a similar manner, that is, through appeals to the general public and the solidarity movement in Greece and abroad, the solidarity health centres have managed to find donated premises for their clinics and to equip and furnish them with cardiographers, dentist chairs, etc. Where this was not possible, the solidarity clinics pressured the local town council to provide them with the unused premises it owns and in few cases they have been forced to rent space. While the movement tries to avoid the use of money, there is a need to cover utility bills and medical products for everyday use and for this reason solidarity funds have been created next to the social clinics to collect donations in money and utilise them for the clinics’ needs. What should be underlined is the invaluable international financial and moral solidarity that many health solidarity structures receive from solidarity initiatives, trade unions and individuals outside Greece. There is not one model of solidarity clinics, each one is unique, and the same goes for all the solidarity structures. While all solidarity health centres are self-organised, some are linked with local doctors’ associations and trade unions, some with local political groups, or cultural centres etc. However they all include and follow the “chart of common principles of the Solidarity Clinics”, which was adopted in their nationwide meeting in November 2013. The meeting also decided the creation of the nationwide Cooperation of Solidarity Clinics and Pharmacies. Next to the nationwide coordination since June 2013 the Coordination of Solidarity Clinics and Pharmacies of Attika has also been functioning with biweekly meetings. In their chart the solidarity health centres, clearly claim that they are open to all and anyone living in Greece, they do not substitute, and do not want to do so, the public health services that the state has decided to ditch, and they fight for the reversal of the people’s exclusion from public health services and for an end to the neo-liberal health policies. In practice, they support their objectives not only by providing medicines to the official public health care system, but also by organising protests and actions in collaboration with health workers’ unions, in hospitals, neighbourhoods and state institutions, demanding health care for all.
19 Food Solidarity Only a few years ago, nobody could have imagined the possibility of a fifth of the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population being unable to meet its food needs. Food solidarity is the most prominent solidarity activity and with the most diverse actions and forms of organisation, indicative of the growing problem of hunger. Examples include food solidarity structures, â&#x20AC;&#x153;without middlemenâ&#x20AC;? networks, solidarity kitchens, cooperative social groceries and collective farms. In March 2014, 103 of these groups held their first nationwide meeting in Athens in an effort to enhance their cooperation and share their experiences and knowhow. More importantly the food solidarity structures constitute the backbone of many other activities of mutual support, such as clothes collection, solidarity tutorials, public events and cultural activities, legal support etc.
Food solidarity structures & solidarity kitchens Food solidarity structures: September 2012: 12 / December 2014: 47. Solidarity parcels distributed fortnightly: February 2013: 1987, March 2014: 3874, September 2014: 4318 Participation per solidarity structure: core group 26, plus extra 30 volunteers per action. Solidarity kitchens: 21 (12 in Attika and 9 in the rest of the country) Solidarity structures that support families with food started in mid 2012 as the problem of poverty became more pressing and visible. Their main action is the collection of food and its distribution to those in need. The key aim of this practice is the involment not only of those able to donate, but mainly of those unable to meet their basic needs. The participatory aspect of the food solidarity structures is equally important in the struggle for dignity. By mobilising those who approach the movement for assistance, become themselves agents of solidarity and moral support, thereby addressing the issue of isolation and indi-
20 vidualisation, as well as the depression and despair which is linked to them. Even if it seems small, 15% of the people who receive food solidarity are actively taking part in the solidarity structures. In absolute numbers that means that they are slightly more than those active in the solidarity structures who do not need food help. The weekly collection of food donations, either from the people outside supermarkets, or from local shoppers (groceries, bakery, butchers etc.) and local farmers markets, is the main source of supplies for the food solidarity structures. And also it is the main practice of spreading the practice of solidarity into the community. Lately, and through the actions of Solidarity for All and radical left mayors, the provision of agricultural production that remains unwanted by the market and is offered by farmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cooperatives, has become an important extra source of supplies, extending the solidarity practices to include also food producers. The growth of food solidarity structures in the last two years, however, does not correspond to the rapidly multiplying numbers of people that turn to the solidarity initiatives for help. The number of people being assisted by the solidarity structures almost doubled from 5166 persons in February 2013, to 10100 in March 2014, reaching 11250 in September same year. In the same period, the food needs started to become a pressing issue even outside Athens and other large urban centres, in smaller towns with regional agricultural production. Alongside food solidarity distributed in bi-weekly parcels, 20 solidarity kitchens are also operating daily, but mainly on a weekly basis. Half of the 20 solidarity kitchens, for which we have available statistics, cook and provide 9000 portions of food (weekly), with the help of 130 volunteers, finding their food supplies through donations and self-funding.
21 “Without middlemen” networks “Without middlemen” distribution groups: 45 (Athens: 26 – rest Greece: 19) People involved (on average per group): 45 (core group 19 / extra 29 in actions) Number of consumers: 655 per distribution Households supported in Athens: 2169 Number of producers that participate: 23 per distribution Volume of distributed products (estimate): more than 5000 tones (20122014) In February 2012, solidarity groups in the cities collaborated with farmers in order to distribute their produce outside the official market circuits. Collecting pre-orders from urban residents and connecting with producers directly, the without middlemen initiatives organised alternative distributions, enabling the farmers to achieve a better income than the price given by merchants allowed, consumers to pay lower prices than in the market. The initial aim of the movement was to provide basic and quality food at lower cost - in a period of recession yet with inflation in foodstuff prices – and to provide alternative outlets for local products unwanted by the market – in order to keep the prices high. As the “without middlemen” paradigm spread, with many groups and also some local authorities adopting the practice, the movement highlighted in a very tangible and practical way, important issues, such as: localisation of food production, food sovereignty, social management of food distribution and quality control. Moreover, through their participation in the “without middlemen” movement, the idea of collaboration and formation of collectives was also reintroduced among the farmers in a new light. The “without middlemen” distributions consist also an important resource of food supplies for the self-organised solidarity movement. Each producer that takes part in each bazaar, donates 2-5% of its daily selling in goods at the end of the day to the solidarity structure, which then distributes them to families that cannot afford to even buy their food. About 2169 families are supported in this way. According to the research of GSEVEE, in only the first year of the movement “22% of households state that they were supplied basic goods through the “without middlemen” networks and 6% through social grocery shops”. According to Solidar-
22 ity for All data collected in March 2014, with facts from half of the 45 self-organised without middlemen groups, the turnout in each of their actions is more than 655 people on average. Which means, at a moderate estimate, that the solidarity movement has distributed about 5 000 tones of goods so far. The success of the movement is also confirmed by the nuisances against the “without middlemen” actions by local authorities connected with the pro-Troika parties and by business’ interests. One third of the local structures had faced troubles with the authorities. Most importantly last April an act was passed in the parliament by the government, aiming to restrict the official open markets in favor of the big food distribution chains and the supermarkets, which in effect outlaws the “without middlemen” actions. Despite these assaults the movement still carries on and tries to coordinate and organise its resistance. The support of radical left run local authorities, who permit such actions, have become important in the efforts of the movement to refuse the implementation of the new law and to continue to provide quality and in affordable prices food, by enhancing the local economy and production.
Social and Solidarity Economy Alongside the solidarity structures a number of other endeavours make up the picture of social and solidarity economy. Free-share bazaars, local alternative currencies, and time-banks are established as forms of direct moneyless exchange of goods and services. About 110 initiatives that terrain put in the centre of their action the need to meet the needs of the people through collective processes of sharing. The debate on the social and solidarity economy has been open in Greece for some years now, but its form and social effect has been influenced significantly by the crisis and the applied policies of the memoranda. Rising levels of unemployment and the inability of a large portion of the university qualified work-force to fit in the memoranda deregulated labour market, as well as the questioning of the dominant mode of production, has created the conditions for the development of cooperative enterprises. Especially recently, a series of about 300 new workers’ or consumers’ cooperatives have emerged. The number of the new cooperative enterprises increases in all sectors of economic life, in such volumes that allow us to talk about a tendency that puts forward new forms of organisation
23 of/and production. The majority of those attempts appear in the field of the food services and distribution. It is worth noting that the discussion for alternative and fair trade, along with the “without middlemen” movement, have contributed significantly to the development of food coops, which beyond connecting producers with consumers, highlight important issues about food production and distribution policies, about genetically modified products, food price policies, the quality and origin of food products and its social and economic footprint. The cooperatives acquire practices that contest the “prevailing” organisation of everyday life. They follow democratic and collective decision making processes through assemblies, implement an equal-wage policy, are autonomous and selfmanaged by their members, while their scope is the production of benefits for their entire membership and the society alike. The workers’ cooperatives aim to connect with the solidarity structures and the movements in their areas. They attempt to become, not only part of a protective net for a society in hardship, but also a way out for the young people facing unemployment. Moreover workers’ collective, as the paradigm of the recuperated factory of Vio.Me. in Thessaloniki shows, can be a feasible way in order to restart production in the abandoned, closed and bankrupt by their owners factories, under worker’s control. Thus the endeavors of building a solidarity and social economy, propose a way out of the crisis, with emancipatory traits by creating new spaces – even within the current system – without exploitation and ecological cost.
The self-managed factory of VIO.ME. The recuperated and self-managed by its workers’ assembly factory of Vio. Me, in Thessaloniki is in the frontline for building different model of production in Greece. Moreover it is a tangible example for an alternative way out of the crisis, economic downsizing and unemployment, which also develops forms of collective and democratic management of economic structures. The struggle is still on as the former owners of Vio.Me. have returned in order to take back and call bankrupt the factory, which means writing off what they owe to the workers and to social security. At the same time Vio.Me. is ready to develop its international distribution network. Visit http://www.viome.org/ on how you can help and get involved.
24 Housing, debt, legal support High unemployment and severe austerity programs have rendered an increasing number of the Greek households unable to keep up with their debt liabilities. According to the Bank of Greece, in May 2013 more than 320.000 people had overdue debt payments Despite the fact that only one third of those relate to mortgages, the recent end of the protection of the primary home of a family with debt, gives free licence to the banks to foreclose up to 180.000 houses, with 80% of those being the primary home. Moreover, the issue of private debt has been greatly exacerbated by the fact that freelancers and small shop-keepers and family-businesses cannot afford their tax and social security contributions, with thousands of them having their bank savings, incomes, private belongings and houses confiscated and/or foreclosed by the state. To counter such dire conditions of looting of people’s belongings, the solidarity movement attempts to built a network of resistance named “foreclosures-STOP”, in order to protect the right to housing from tax plundering and bank vultures. Many dozens of public meetings have been held, and more than 40 solidarity structures have participated in the movement against foreclosure and debt, by providing information and legal support for settlement of the debt or by organising the blocking of house foreclosures. Due to the aforementioned changes in the legal framework the cases of house auctions has grown considerably in recent months and the practice of actively stopping them in the courts is increasing. In the last three months the movement has managed to have a considerable presence and to stop foreclosures in many boroughs of Athens as well as half dozen other cities. However one in three households fear that they will loose their house , because they cannot with their accumulated financial liabilities, debts and mortgages. Already, and despite the lack of a decent survey, it is acknowledged that at least 20000 people were made homeless since 2010, with no development of any kind of shelters by the state. Moreover for a big number of families and households the living conditions have considerably deteriorated, as many people live in smaller and cheaper houses, in order to get by. This happens at a time that hundreds thousands of houses remain closed, unrented and unused, merely as a a tax-burden for their middleclass owners. It is worth noting that when it comes to homelessness and debt issues it becomes easily obvious the degree of the eradication of the middle class that has occurred in Greece, the years of the Troika memoranda. For the solidarity movement, protecting the people’s house is fundamental in the efforts of restricting the “accumulation by dispossession” process of the banks, as well
25 as the tax-plundering policies aiming only for the repayment of the bailouts. More importantly though the protection of people’s houses and livelihood, is fundamental in resisting the tearing apart of the social fabric, especially in a close-knit society like the Greek one, where the home lies at the centre of the organisation of its life.
Solidarity tutorials, cultural centres Growing economic inequality also affected the ability of many families to provide proper schooling to their children. With the initiative of unionised and unemployed teachers, associations of pupils’ parents and volunteer university students, the solidarity movement has taken the form of free solidarity tutorials in many schools and solidarity centres. Many of the solidarity tutorials are organised through the common assembly of teachers, parents and pupils. Solidarity tutorials’ groups stress that they don’t aim at a substitution of the ailing public education system, but at confronting the inequalities of an educational system that is shrinking and is dissolving under the memoranda policies. Teachers do the teaching, and parents hold the administration duties. It is important to stress that many of the school students’ parents’ associations and teachers’ associations have been revitalised as collectives in these years of crisis and memoranda, as the came first of all face to face with repeating cases of children fainting by malnutrition, not vaccinated etc. Thus they developed, less or more formal solidarity activities, especially in the poorer neighborhoods, in order to support their children with food, schooling material, clothes etc. One can say that this unmapped solidarity, but integrated in the community, activity is of equal measure and importance than the rest of the solidarity movement and has provided an invaluable assistance, showing the collective reflexes of a society under pressure. Alongside the solidarity centres, the net of autonomous social spaces is also composed of dozens of social centres run by citizens’ initiatives, social movements and left wing and radical groups. Starting more than two decades ago, they have created an informal network, which also functioned as the hotbed for many of the ideas and practices picked up and transformed in the context of the crisis by the solidarity movement. Such social centres embrace activities ranging from the political to the cultural, connecting various groups, initiatives, citizens committees etc., who access them for their activities.
26 Solidarity structures and social centres develop a variety of cultural activities in support of their actions, with the colaboration of artists, musicians and theatre groups that offer their art to raise funds or promote campaigns of solidarity and resistance. One of the most interesting cultural solidarity projects is the Social Music Conservatory, an effort of music teachers, that started in February of 2012, which provides free music classes to dozens of kids. We should also note the self-organised Empros theatre in Athens, recuperated and revived by artists, which has become a free art space and hub for many radical artists and cultural collectives. Important also is the initiative “Love, hey!” a collective of musicians that organizes concerts against fascism and was formed after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas.
Workers’ solidarity One of the most important deficits of the trade union movement in Greece has been the lack of support structures for its membership, especially when they become unemployed. Despite few cases where local trade unions have provided shelter to solidarity structures, one of the most positive developments of the solidarity movement in 2014 has been its meeting with workers that have undertaken or still are involve in, long struggles and strikes. The creation of solidarity structures within workspaces became a necessity for building both support during their struggles but also confronting the hardships of wage reductions, austerity and forced redundancies. Such cases include “Artemis” the solidarity structure of the Athens University staff – after three months long strike against layoffs and work-suspension -, the solidarity of ERT (Greece’s public broadcaster shut down by the government) workers - who continue to occupy and self-manage the majority of the local radio and TV studios, despite been more than one year without wage -, solidarity actions by and for the photojournalists’ union etc. The most important solidarity movement though has been built around the iconic and determined struggle of the 595 female cleaners sacked from the Ministry of Finance. The solidarity structures have become integral part of their support basis. Through Solidarity for All, the cleaners were connected with solidarity clinics for their needs, developed fundraising and media campaigns, while more than 40 food solidarity structures cooked for their (and for the teachers in job-suspension) camp
27 outside the entrance of the Ministry of Finance in central Athens. As already mentioned, joint protests and solidarity activities have been organised by solidarity clinics and health workersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; unions, or joint actions with local teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; unions in schools etc. In addition, the solidarity movement has been present in various ways in all the important struggles and moments of resistance, from providing (material and political) support to the movement against gold mining in Skouries-Chalkidiki, to the year long struggle of the Coca-Cola workers in Thessaloniki against the closing of their factory, etc.
Immigrant solidarity networks The decades long anti-racist solidarity movement has been the hotbed and initial source of inspiration for many of the solidarity actions developed in the years of the Troika and memoranda. Moreover, its importance grew even more as the crisis created a fertile environment for racist rhetoric, scapegoating and immigrant bashing. As solidarity practices that started in support of immigrants with the crisis developed to include Greeks alike, similarly attacks against immigrants and refugees very quickly turned against Greek antifascists also, as the killing of Pavlos Fyssas by neo-Nazi thugs shows. The solidarity movement with its anti-discriminatory and inclusive practices, has built a ground not merely of tolerance and co-existence, but of unity and common struggle. While not measured the presence of immigrants in the solidarity movement is considerable, especially in the areas with large immigrant communities in the urban centres. In this way the solidarity movement weaves a fabric of new social relationships against exclusion, racism and fascism. One can claim that it is not a coincidence that where active solidarity structures exist, the fascists are less present, or, at least less visible and active. The solidarity with immigrants, beyond developing the anti-racist movement, consists of Greek language classes, legal support and recently more and more emergency care for hundreds of refugees that come to the Greek islands or in Athens, without shelter, food, etc. The hunger strike of 200 Syrian refugees demanding travel documents, was the most recent struggle raised by the refugees themselves that was met with the solidarity of the Greek movement.
Part 3 - Solidarity for All Solidarity for All was formed in early autumn of 2012. It was a result of the growing grassroots social solidarity movement and of SYRIZAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision to support this movement by creating a solidarity fund. Yet, Solidarity for All does not coincide with the solidarity fund. It functions as an assembly, which 1st distribution of food products to the solidarity structures (7-2013) aims to facilitate the development of grassroots solidarity, to enhance the culture of self-organisation in the various fields of social mobilisation, to create common tools and spaces for coordination of actions and the sharing of know-how between solidarity structures, of increasing the visibility of the solidarity movement in order to be more accessible to both those that need it and those want to get involved, and to develop international solidarity campaigns with the Greek people. In a decentralised and collective manner, it provides logistical and administrative support to the local solidarity structures, while it participates in coordinating attempts on an equal basis simply as one more solidarity structure. Moreover, by following examples and principles of the solidarity movement, e.g. donations instead of cash funding, it tries to respond to the needs of solidarity structures by developing nationwide campaigns and inventing ways of multiplying the limited available resources. Thus it has been established as a hub of the solidarity movement, a crossing not only for the local structures but also between them and other collective efforts, such as unions, farmersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; cooperatives, foreign solidarity groups, progressive local authorities, etc. 4th distribution of food products to the solidarity structures (12-2014)
As important as the building of relationships of trust and mutual respect between those participating in solidarity actions are, similarly for Solidarity For All, building relationships of trust and mutuality with the solidarity structures has become a principal trait of its mentality, fabric and identity. This has formed the baThe first meeting of representatives of social clinics with the view to organize the Coordination of Athens’ Solidarity Social sis for its collaboration with the soliClinics (17/7/2013) darity structures. Solidarity For All develops nationwide solidarity campaigns aiming either to support solidarity actions or to highlight issues and initiate coordinated solidarity campaigns. Thus in the first category are campaigns such as “education for all” aiming to support the collection and sharing of school materials by the local structures at the beginning of each academic year, or, the campaign “a bottle of olive oil for each unemployed” in order olive-oil producers to feed with olive oil food solidarity structures. The production and circulation of literature around issues that can inform new cooperative movement, or, that of mortgages and foreclosures cultivated the ground for closer meetings and coordination of cooperatives and the formation of “foreclosures-STOP” campaign, respectively. In that manner Solidarity for All has also contributed to the realisation of the nationwide meetings of the health and the meeting of 103 food solidarity structures. As the devastating results of the Troika memoranda take their toll on the solidarity structures Solidarity For All seeks to multiply Solidarity notebooks the available resources by including more sectors of the society in the practice of solidarity. So far, in colaboration with the “without middlemen” involved farmers it has held 4 distributions of 215 tones of food products to the solidarity structures according to their needs. Recently, and in collaboration with local authorities run by the radical left, it has managed to establish collaboration with farmers’ cooperatives in order to provide agricultural produce, intended for disposal, to the food solidarity structures. In this way more than 350 tones of fresh agricultural goods have been donated to Solidarity for All and through the local structures have reached thousands of families in need, refugee camps, and also solidarity clinics that re-
30 ceived 1.75 tones of infant formula milk (worth 38500â&#x201A;Ź). In addition, Solidarity For All, through the solidarity fund has funded legal actions mounted by citizensâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; groups against the privatisation of public assets and land, or for activists imprisoned or in court cases. The experience, knowledge and inventiveness of the solidarity movement, has made Solidarity For All the main recipient of queries about strategies for countering the humanitarian crisis and poverty, as many radical left mayors have found, and are forced to operate in, conditions of understaffed, under funded and abandoned public social services and infrastructure. The spirit of collective effort, volunteering, self-organisation and participation of resisting communities, that characterises the political culture of solidarity, faces the challenge to fill the gap of downtrodden deregulated and corrupted social services with a new approach and practice. Thus the codification and sharing of the experience of the Map of the solidarity social strucsolidarity movement by Solidarity For All wants to inform tures in Athens (6-2014) the design of new set of participatory policies in all areas of social life and primarily those connected with the most immediate needs of a society. It is on this basis that a new field of action opens up for the solidarity movement. It is the need of turning its practice and experiences into applied policies of change and social organisation, in order to reverse the conditions of humanitarian crisis as integral part of the effort to unravel the bailout dictated policies of a corrupted political system. Organising this struggle and developing even more the solidarity movement as social-managed infrastructures of change and hope, but also as places of participation and Greek photoreporters contribute to the creation of a solidarityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diary (12-2013) real democracy, is the new political challenge we face, as Solidarity For All and society as well.
Mission to Gaza (10-2014) Mission to Kobane (2-2015)
Workshop during the 1st National meeting of solidarity food social structures (3-2014)
International solidarity movement and campaigns The international solidarity that the Greek people have received the last four years in their resistance has been unprecedented and moving. The mobilisation of international solidarity groups has given courage, but also invaluable political and material support, to the grass-root solidarity movement and in general to the Greek people. What is more, it makes the Greek movement feel that with its experience it has contributed, even a little, to the creation of a much broader international movement, that is necessary, in order to be able to deal a blow to the international and national economic and political establishments. As Greece emerged as the weakest link of the neo-liberal assault and domination, in Europe and beyond, many dozens of solidarity initiatives have been formed outside Greece. In many countries from Europe to Latin America and Australia, people showed their solidarity recognising the significance of this conflict for their own societies. Dozens of solidarity delegations and thousands of activists visited Greece and organised campaigns in their own countries, playing a central role in raising awareness about the real situation confronting Greek society due to the “bailout” programs. More than providing information, they have been the main channel of spreading the message of the resistance of the Greek people and its ways of organising. Those international groups have built solidarity campaigns to workers’ and communities’ struggles (the steel workers of Elliniki Chalivourgia, the ERT workers, the anti-gold mining movement in Chalkidiki, the 595 cleaners, the Vio.Me. etc.), and of political and material support for the self-organised solidarity structures, the antifascist movement and the civil rights of activists. This international solidarity has strengthened the processes for the creation of cross-national networks between the various movements in Europe. The solidarity movement and Solidarity For All have been present in more than 35 international meetings and solidarity actions in Europe, the Mediterranean basin and beyond, in an effort to share its experience, build bonds, learn from and coordinate with similar grassroots movements, especially in countries tested by Troikas and bailouts, such as Spain, Ireland, Portugal, etc. From the outset, Solidarity For All made its priority the development of an international campaign supporting the resistance of the Greek people and its self-organ-
32 ised movement. In this framework has facilitated the direct connection between international solidarity campaigns and solidarity structures and workers’ struggles in Greece. More than 50 solidarity delegations from around the globe and dozens of journalists and researchers have visited and started direct cooperation with solidarity structures. Moreover Solidarity for All has assisted the organisation of international meetings in Greece, and participated in similar ones abroad, contributing to the creation of international grassroots movements and spaces of / for action. Despite grievances and hardships, the solidarity movement and the Greek people, have shown their internationalism by developing solidarity campaigns for other people that resist oppression, barbarism and wars. Last summer Solidarity for All and the Cooperation of the Solidarity Clinics responded to the call of health commitees of the Gaza strip for medical solidarity and with other social organisations they collected and handed in two lorries of medicine to Gaza. In February 2015 a similar campaign for the refugees from Kobane is organised by the solidarity movement after an initiative of Solidarity for All and prepares to visit the refugee camps in the area and hand in medicine and food supplies in February 2015. The next period is expected to define, in Greece and Europe, a new phase in the peoples’ challenge of the Troika regime and austerity. Facing the humanitarian and economic crisis in Greece mingles with the financial blackmailing by the international lenders. In this context trans-national solidarity, both political and material, holds a pivotal role for keeping alive and open the potential for building an alternative paradigm beyond neoliberalism and crisis. Strengthening the solidarity and common cross-borders actions is the new joint challenge for the grassroots movements in order to facilitate such transformative potential for a post-capitalist future. Solidarity for All aims to act towards this goal by facilitating and promoting even more the international solidarity campaign to the self-organised movement in Greece and beyond.
How you can help - Get in contact with Solidarity for All or a solidarity structure you are interested in. - Build a solidarity campaign, or, public event in your country. If you need ideas or help, let us know. - Create fundraising events and campaigns for medicine and food supplies for the self organised solidarity structures. - You can also make donations in Bank Account: ΙΒΑΝ GR5901100400000004048343562 BIC ETHNGR AA
- Inform us about solidarity actions, or, similar movements in your country, and get informed about the Greek movement in https://www.facebook.com/sol4all. Spread the word.