Greece has been rocked by protests for the past several weeks in response to a train crash that took place on February 28th. The crash occurred after a train carrying students crashed into a freight train. Both trains were traveling in opposite directions on the same track. The crash left 57 people dead, many of whom were students and railway workers.
To the population, the crash symbolized the result of austerity policies imposed since the 2008 financial crisis and European debt crisis. Greece was forced to massively cut domestic spending in order to receive loans from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, to pay off their debt. These cuts gutted social services and have resulted in underfunding and understaffing in many public sectors such as the railroads. During this process, sections of the railroad in Greece have been privatized.
In response to the crash, labor unions in Greece have organized short-term general strikes across the country led by railway worker unions. Mass protests have also emerged in cities such as Athens, with protesters calling for the ouster of the current right-wing ruling party, New Democracy. Strikers and demonstrators are also protesting against the continued austerity policies they face in the country.
There are similarities between the situation facing the Greek population and the United States, which recently experienced a high-profile train derailment in Ohio driven by corporations and politicians prioritizing profits for the wealthy at the expense of safety. We stand with the Greek population who are fighting back against austerity!