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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Protests and outrage after horrific train disaster in Greece

KKE: This all the "result of the policy pursued over time of so-called railway liberalization, state underfunding, the fragmentation of the railway system into many parts and the privatization of the former TRAINOSE."

Protests in Greece, March 2 -- Image via Twitter

For two nights in a row protests by students, Communists and others have been held in the Greek cities of Athens and Thessaloniki after the horrific train crash on February 28 that has left -- as of Thursday night (March 2) -- at least 57 dead. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has also condemned the present and previous neo-liberal governments for what it says was a totally preventable disaster brought on by privatization, liberalization and a lack of oversight.

According to a press release by the KKE:

We demand that there be a full investigation into the causes of this tragedy, that nothing be covered up!
In any case, the tragedy in Tempe was not something that came as a bolt from the blue.
There have long been indications that a very dangerous situation has developed in rail transport, both for passengers and for workers. There were numerous warnings from workers that it was only a matter of time before a serious accident occurred, which were apparently ignored by the government and the company.
This is confirmed by the complaints about the poorly maintained network, about shortcomings and gaps in safety systems, staffing and critical infrastructure such as signage. These are precisely the issues raised just a few days ago by the statement made by the trade union grouping of railway workers supported by the KKE, with the shocking prediction that ‘we will not wait for the accident to come to see them shedding crocodile tears while making ex post observations’.
Therefore, this is not “bad luck”, but a crime that was bound to happen, having causes and culprits.
The company bears enormous responsibility. In its statements, it provided no answer as regards the details and causes of the accident, or even the exact number of passengers on the train. However, it receives €50 million a year from the state as a subsidy.
All of the above are the result of the policy pursued over time of so-called railway liberalization, state underfunding, the fragmentation of the railway system into many parts and the privatization of the former TRAINOSE. This is a criminal —as is demonstrated— policy that bears the stamp of all the New Democracy, SYRIZA and PASOK governments to date. In the framework of this policy, workers have been made redundant, flexible working conditions and intensification have been imposed on those who remain, while the Italian company has been heavily subsidized.
These responsibilities cannot be absolved by the resignation of a minister, nor can they be hidden behind the Prime Minister’s statements about human errors.
This policy, which all the other parties loyally follow, has led to tragic accidents in other EU countries too. Therefore, no one has the right to pretend they did not know about the situation.
The necessary conditions for safe and modern rail transport are sacrificed on the altar of this criminal state policy and investor profits, since they are systematically treated as a cost.
The struggle against the above is literally a matter of life and death!”

This follows a previous statement on March 1.

As anger rises over the terrible death count -- many of those killed were university students --


Most of the victims in the train accident that had been waiting to happen were university students, returning to their place of study from a short holiday.

On Wednesday (March 1), the students’ unions in the cities of Athens, Thessaloniki and Larissa held silent demonstrations outside the offices of the company “Hellenic Train” and at the railway stations, with the slogan “Our dead - their profits”.

In Athens, there was an unprovoked attack on the students by the police and riot police, who tried to disperse the gathering with tear gas, without success. The students marched to the Parliament, with the repressive forces continuing their attempt to disperse them by constantly throwing chemicals.



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