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Greece: government orders civil mobilization against striking teachers

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Via: libcom.org

The Greek government has issued orders for teachers to halt a planned strike over working conditions this week.

This weekend the Greek government ordered striking teachers back to work. The union of secondary school teachers(OLME) had voted on strike action to take place starting this week. In an attempt to stifle the strike before it could begin the government issued civil mobilisation orders. Under such an order a worker must return to work or face arrest.

The decision to take strike action was prompted by new measures against teacher’s working conditions. Recently the government pushed further austerity measures through parliament which included making teachers work an extra two hours each week in the next academic year. For a teacher two hours extra in class can easily mean another two hours extra preparation work they have to do outside of school hours. So the increased hours, coming at a time of decreasing pay, are not insubstantial.

The government’s reasoning is that by forcing current teachers to work more they will save money by employing fewer teachers. This reason disregards the still rising 27% unemployment rate(64% for young people) and the effect that burdening teachers with extra work will have on the quality of education. This will further damage the education system in Greece which has been repeatedly hit by austerity measures over the last three years.

The strike action is planned to start this week and continue next week but has not yet begun. Despite the action not yet being under way the conservative government has already ordered civil mobilisation of the teachers. Mobilisation orders will be issued on Monday to over 80,000 teachers who face arrest should they not return to work. Civil mobilisation is a practice which was meant to be used for natural disasters and emergencies but is quickly becoming this government’s default method of dealing with strikes. So far this year two mobilisation orders have been issued against dock and public transport workers, both orders being enforced by the deployment of riot police.

The government justified it’s decision by labelling the teachers of the nation’s children a ‘threat to society‘ with the strike planned to begin on the first day of the Panhellenic exams. These exams are taken by Greek students to determine their ability to enter university and are taken very seriously. This in turn leads to extraordinary pressure being put on students as they are told their whole life depends on the results.

With the strike yet to begin it’s outcome is unknown. Previously the threat of mass arrest has forced other striking sectors to back down and no doubt the government and the media will roll out anguished and distressed parents and students in order to pressure the teachers to back down. On the other hand the teaching sector is far larger than the others which have been previously issued orders. The reaction of the students will also be key. OLME have called for a demonstration on Monday afternoon and are asking other unions to declare a general strike later on in the week.

The issuing of the mobilisation orders pre-emptively, the labelling of striking workers as a ‘threat to society’ and the looming possibility of riot police being deployed to schools all point to an increasing authoritarian trend from the Greek state.

Greece: Latest updates on Golden Dawn, racism and antisemitism

Case file against Golden Dawn MP to be submitted to parliament

The public prosecutor’s office is to forward to parliament a case file against Golden Dawn MP Yiorgos Yermenis following an attempted assault on Athens Mayor Yiorgos Kaminis. The Golden Dawn MP’s parliamentary immunity must be lifted before he can be charged with verbal assault and attempted bodily harm. Yermenis – also known as Kaiadas – on Thursday attempted to assaulted Kaminis inside a municipal stall, after the mayor successfully stopped a Greeks-only food handout on Syntagma square by the extreme-right party.

Kaminis’ bodyguards intervened to block the punch but a 12-year-old girl was injured in the stall, which was located around 100 metres from the Golden Dawn headquarters. Yermenis also reached for a gun in the incident.

Report says Greece could ban anti-Semitic Golden Dawn party

A report released by the Council of Europe says that Greece could legally ban the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party, which has been linked to a number of violent, racist attacks. The 32-page report by the France-based council was issued Tuesday by its human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, following a fact-finding mission to Greece earlier this year. The report said Muiznieks was “seriously concerned by the increase in racist and other hate crimes in Greece,” and that “a number of the reported attacks have been linked to members or supporters, including MPs, of the neo-Nazi political party ‘Golden Dawn.’ ”

It said that under existing Greek legislation and under treaties signed by Athens, Greece had the legal means to take steps against Golden Dawn, including banning the party. “The Commissioner calls on the Greek authorities to be highly vigilant and use all available means to combat all forms of hate speech and hate crime, and to end impunity for these crimes,” the report said. The Greek media said the Greek government had sent the council a response indicating that it was unlikely to ban Golden Dawn. “Solutions cannot be the products of emotional responses, which could backfire or bring about unwanted results,” the Eleftherotypia newspaper quoted the Greek government’s response as saying.

A statement on the Golden Dawn website dismissed the report, saying the Council of Europe was a “Zionist institution.” The Council of Europe, which is based in Strasbourg, runs the European Court of Human Rights.

Golden Dawn emerged on the political scene last year, winning 7 percent of the vote, or 18 seats, in the 300-member Greek Parliament. Recent polls have indicated the party, which runs on a fiercely anti-immigrant platform, now has 14 percent to 18 percent of the population’s support. Jewish and international groups groups have condemned Golden Dawn as racist and anti-Semitic.

Greece seeks stringent penalties for racist crimes

The government is expected to table for public consultation in the coming weeks a new bill introducing tougher punishment for racist and xenophobic offenses, which will bring Greece in line with a European Union directive dating back to 2008. Skai TV reported that Deputy Justice Minister Costas Karagounis has the draft legislation ready and is looking for broad support, not just from the three parties serving in the governing coalition.

According to sources, the bill foresees anyone found guilty of racist behavior, including in the media and on the Internet, facing between three and six years in jail and a fine of up to 20,000 euros. These penalties will also apply to acts of racist violence.
The Racist Violence Recording Network, a collection of 30 nongovernmental organizations initiated two years ago by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), said in a report last week that a total of 154 racist attacks were recorded in Greece in 2012. It warned that such attacks were becoming more frequent and violent.

In November 2008 the European Council adopted the “Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law.” EU countries were obliged to transpose it into their national laws by November 2010.

Golden Dawn’s rise worries government

Top government officials are concerned that the coalition is not going to be able to stop the steady rise of far-right Golden Dawn ahead of next year’s European Parliament elections and are examining the possibility of changing the law to outlaw extremist parties of its ilk.

“Greece is going to give the watching world a nasty surprise in the upcoming Euro elections,” a close aide of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said recently with regard to Golden Dawn’s showing at the polls, which are due to be held next May. The neo-Nazi party, which took 6.9 percent of the vote in last June’s national elections, has consistently taken third place in opinion polls over the last few months with support at 10 to 12 percent.

Sources said that the government is worried that Golden Dawn is successfully portraying itself as an anti-systemic party and that this will draw strong support in the European Parliament elections, when many voters feel less obliged to vote according to their traditional political beliefs.

The premier’s office is also concerned about the tendency for Golden Dawn to claim it is being victimized, allowing the party to appear “heroic” to its supporters. Last Thursday, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias prevented Golden Dawn handing out food in Syntagma Square. Samaras’s advisers fear the far-right party may have gained popularity after the incident.
In an interview with Real News weekly on Saturday, Dendias suggested that the next Parliament could approve legislation banning extremist parties as part of a constitutional review. “The constitutional review gives us the ability to exclude from the party system outgrowths such as Golden Dawn,” he said.

Source Dawn of the Greeks, and Ekathimerini, via Glykosymoritis

Message from anarchists in Turkey

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Our sentimental brother Mr. Arinc (islamist Turkish politician, Vice-Prime Minister) has said that «some anarchist groups were coming to cause destruction by using May 1st as an excuse; they were planning to use these celebrations in order to cause destruction against our government, our state. Our police and security forces were aware of their plans and that is why we forbade them to enter Taksim».

We guess when the «there are construction works going on, nails might be stuck on your feet» excuse did not work, he tried to use the «there are anarchists» option. Well, finally the era of perceiving anarchists as entertainment objects while talking about May 1st has come to an end.

Our friends’ second appearance at the court will take place in a few days. If you remember last year they were detained with the allegation of «1st May conspiracy» ; their first court hearing was on 25th January. 40 people who will appear in court include anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and animal rights activists. Their second hearing was adjourned to May.

We know that this case will be ignored by the left-socialist press, once again. When it comes to the anarchists, left-socialist groups and the press do not see, hear or talk about us.

Anyway, let’s go back to our subject.

First of all, from left to right, above to below, everyone should learn this fact that May 1st is not a celebration, it’s a day of resistance!

On 1st May 1886, the US state sentenced 5 anarchists to death by hanging. Anarchist workers led the strike in Haymarket square. The starting point of 1 May is mass resistance and defiance against exploitation. Until this exploitation is eradicated, workers would only be fooling themselves with celebrations. If the state, aided by capitalism and fascism, tells the trade unions and left-socialist parties «ok, take this as a holiday once a year, get together, shout and scream, shout slogans, dance, wave flags, march with your child on a sunny May day, then go back home and continue living your reality», then May 1st has lost its meaning. If the left-socialist parties and trade unions are colluding with this discourse knowingly or unknowingly, then they are betraying themselves.

Was there anyone in that square, especially among the trade union members and civil servants, who has not been exploited by the banks, which make them dependent on credit cards, mortgage system, car loans, confiscating their salaries, and using the protective shield of the state while doing that?

Mr. Arinc mentions a group of anarchists’ action last year, which the press referred to as «anarchists attacking the bank branches»; it was not an attack but a defence. A group of anarchists wanted to attract attention to the attack of the banking system, which is the spine of capitalism and exploitation. They acted with the principle of an individual’s right to self-defence.

Yes, anarchists changed the discourse. Yes, anarchists in Turkey went to the square in such a manner for the first time. And yes, just like in other parts of the world, anarchism put its roots in this soil and the state noticed that.

Anarchists do not create chaos and disorder. The current system itself is chaos and disorder. All the systems created from above are systems of chaos. The history of mankind is the history of chaos. Anarchists with their words articulate the denouncement and end of this chaotic system, which the elites show as ‘orderly’. Your salary My Ardinc is 17.000TL. But your laws determine the minimum wages for other people to 700TL. This is what chaos is Mr. Ardinc, created by your people. The system, which you approve and help to perpetuate, itself is disorder. This is why you are right to be scared.

Anarchists do not destroy. They try to correct the already attacked and ruined. The first whisper that went out to the world was Proudhon’s statement of 150 years ago: «theft is not to rob a bank, but to establish it». Today these whispers bring the storm. Broken bank windows, cash machines, exploitation centres, shopping centres, broken corporate offices are not destructive actions. Those banks, shopping centres, multinational companies are the ones which attack and destroy human lives. You have installed slavery through the banking system; installed more and more consumerism via shopping centres, ultimate exploitation via multinational companies; these are the destructive forces. The system you support is destroyng human lives. You are destroying the whole world either with an Islamic state, liberal or socialist state.

But you know all these very well Mr. Ardinc! Anarchists know these very well, too.

PS: Governor Avni said «look, the Turkish Communist Party held celebrations in Kadikoy very nicely. You should have done the same». His words formally prove that the TKP has finished.

Anarchists in Turkey

ReelNews presents – Into the Fire: The Hidden Victims of Austerity in Greece

In times of severe austerity things look bleak for Greek people, but they’re far worse for those who have recently arrived. Without housing, legal papers or support, migrants in Greece are faced with increasing and often violent racism at the hands of the growing Nazi party Golden Dawn and the police in Athens. Many are trapped by EU laws and legislation of other EU countries meaning they’d be returned to Greece if they managed to get to another member state, they are desperate to leave the country.

On 21st April Into the Fire has been released online and published on various websites simultaneously. Guy Smallman and Kate Mara went to Greece before the last elections (June 2012) and spoke with refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants and undocumented, trying to get an idea of the state of the asylum procedure in this European border country and what it is like to live in constant fear of being attacked – for having the wrong skin colour.

Refugees flee their home countries on the search for safety. Due to it’s land border with Turkey, Greece is one of the main entry gates into Europe, but once there refugees are faced with deficiencies in the asylum procedure, and appalling detention and living conditions. European legislation prevents them from moving on to other European countries and traps them in Greece.

Without housing, legal papers or support, they are faced with increasing and often violent racism. Attacks do not only target refugees, but any foreigner, including immigrants who have been in Greece for years. In spite of incendiary propaganda by the fascist party Golden Dawn and a surge of murderous attacks, state and police seem unwilling to address the issue. Allegations of police sympathizing with Golden Dawn are an open secret. The refugees address their plea for help to Greece and all of Europe: “Let us leave!”

Funeral of Shehzad Luqman in Kotzia square in Athens. 19-1-13 The 26 year old Pakistani migrant was stabbed to death in a racially motivated murder on January 16th as he was cycling to work. His family and friends from the local Pakistani community met in

Against the marketization of the university

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The crisis in higher education is the result of a privatized culture of management. This is a plea for turning universities back over to the sciences.

Over the last 1.5 years, the VU University Amsterdam has been embroiled in a battle against the severe budgetary cuts pursued by the Dutch government. The university board — consisting of three members, one of whom is the former CEO of a port company and another the former CEO of a bank — has launched a reorganization program that includes budget cuts of €33 million. This reorganization will result in 500-600 lay-offs and the elimination of many small educational programs and courses — and it is already underway.

The opinion piece that follows was written by university employees and published by the Dutch daily, NRC Handelsblad, on April 8, 2013. Although the article draws on the situation at the VU Amsterdam, it takes a broader perspective that implicates higher education as a whole. The rising competition between academics and departments, the commercialization of education programs, and the cuts to public funding are recognizable across universities. A broader crisis in higher education is playing out at the VU, and our organized response to it can serve as a model for resistance.

The VU University Amsterdam is facing a crisis of governance. This crisis was covered in NRC Handelsblad when the newspaper published articles covering the 9-month-long conflict between the university board, the Works Council, the unions, the deans’ council and the employee platform, ‘Concerned for the VU’. Since then, Lex Bouter, the VU’s Rector Magnificus resigned from his post. As members of ‘Concerned for the VU,’ we would like to take this opportunity to publicly elucidate own position on the matter.

The problems that we have raised during this period are not specific to the VU. Nor are they simply the result of failed management or shoddy policy. Rather, this crisis exposes much broader, structural problems in higher education. Namely, academic research and education have been overrun by a comprehensive commercialization process, which is accompanied by a shift towards the model of a Manager’s University. As we wage our opposition to this development at the VU, we are aware of the presence of the same problems at universities across the Netherlands and Europe more generally.

The university’s commercialization process rests on three pillars. The first is the introduction of a new management model that was made official in 1998 with the Modernization of University Governance law. With this legislation, the independence of departments, faculty members and students was seriously undermined. Universities came under the control of a new generation of managers trained on the principles of New Public Management. The core philosophy was that running a university is essentially the same as running a commercial company. The consequence was that students are treated as clients, degrees as products, while researchers and lecturers as the personnel of the production line.

The second pillar is the creation of a ‘market’ for higher education, especially through a funding model that rewards universities according to the number of degrees that they grant. Universities are incentivized to attract as many students as possible and encourage them to graduate as quickly as possible. The role of public relations and marketing workers became increasingly important as universities were stimulated to follow their ‘competitors’ while carefully sustaining their university’s positive image on the market. Our colleagues in other universities are seen suddenly as competitors.

The third and final pillar is both the least visible and the most reprehensible: the ‘financialization’ of universities and the adoption of the practices of financial markets. In a nutshell, this strategy means that universities must borrow increasing amounts, for instance, in order to finance the construction of new buildings. This has made banks increasingly important behind-the-scenes players in the task of upholding universities. Proponents of this approach expected the advantage of increased efficiency.

However, realistic evaluation reveals that these policies have had disastrous consequences. For the managers who see the university simply as another commercial entity it is not the quality of education that is of primary concern, but revenue and competitiveness. The result is the intensification of education in the pursuit of economies of scale (larger class sizes, fewer contact hours and the emergence of wide curricula with catchy names and little substance), but also lowered labor costs (hiring of young, less-experienced lecturers on temporary contracts). Moreover, universities have taken on the status of debtors, and must therefore ensure that their credit is good. Yet, as we have come to see, this is partly subject to the evaluation of their management. As a result, several small and specialized educational programs come to be evaluated as ‘loss-making’.

Moreover, a system of allocating funding according to student success rates produces distorted incentives as it creates a systematic pressure for all involved to give students a passing grade. In some cases, the no-cure-no-pay principle is being applied even to thesis supervision. If a student fails to submit the dissertation on time, the supervision hours are not remunerated. Fortunately, the large majority of academics have developed a professional ethic that leads them to continue ensuring the quality of student output. However, these systematic flaws are at odds with that ethnical drive.

In the workplace, managers and faculty have become increasingly alienated from one another. The most highly specialized group of employees in the country is treated as a dispensable labour force and faces more and more standardization, penalization and sometimes even straightforward surveillance. Coffee-breaks are reserved for the fittingly cynical condemnation of managers and their ludicrous newspeak, their clumsy involvement in the university’s core tasks of education and research and their superficial advertizing campaigns. Unfortunately, however, the resources, time and energy to do remedy this situation are often lacking.

The VU governance crisis – which we owe in part to our own passivity – can be seen as a potential source of positive publicity for the university. This crisis is a sign that employees here are rejecting a stance of cynical resignation and demanding the university be given back to faculty, the administrative personnel and the students. The market principles that were introduced 20 years ago within the semi-public sector have clearly failed to improve higher education. While the managers that have benefited most from this development seem to be in a deep state of denial, the university employees at the VU are no longer buying into their narrative. Our hope is that this crisis will not end with the empty ‘sacrifice’ of the Rector, but will instead become the beginning of a radical change in the way higher education is organized at the university.

What we need is a realistic alternative. This alternative will not come from the national government. Therefore, we call on all university employees across the country and the continent to think and act with us.

Jan Abbink, Donya Alinejad, Ellen Bal, Femke Brandt, Lenie Brouwer, Elise Dijkstra, Bertie Kaal, Elly Pauelsen, Dimitris Pavlopoulos, Mark Peters, Marina de Regt, Jeroen Rodenberg, Arjan de Rooy, Matthias van Rossum, Ida Sabelis, Josephien Sierag, Boris Slijper, Bert van der Spek, Houkje Vlietstra, Hans de Waardt, Pieter Wagenaar

The authors of this article are lecturers, researchers and administrative employees of the VU Amsterdam. They are all active in the platform ‘Concerned for the VU’. On Thursday, April 25, this platform organizes an open event with title ‘The university of the managers is bankrupt: It’s time for the change!’

Republication from roarmag.org