Movement is a basic necessity. In order to work, to study, to look for work, to entertain ourselves, it is necessary to move. In the modern big cities that we inhabit, the distances that we have to travel are enormous. For students, low-paid workers, lower class people in general who are unable to buy and maintain a private means of transport, the only way to move is with the mass transport system. If we take into account that when mass transportation doesn’t work (e.g. during a strike) the city is paralyzed, it is easy to see how transportation is not a privilege but a necessary gear for the functioning of the metropolis. The very design of the metropolis is based on a network of fast mass transit of workers to their jobs and consumers to consumerist centres.
We conclude that the mass transport system is an essential link for both the operation of the city and the profits of capital itself, which could not be made without a suitable transit network. In Athens, specifically, this need is covered by OASA, which, although funded by State contributions, is moving increasingly in the logic of a private company. So, it is forcing passengers to pay for tickets, seeing moving not a social necessity but a privilege. At the same time the OASA is spending tens of millions on new control and snitching systems, does not service the vehicles, leaves the cleaners unpaid and cuts off or reduces routes that are unprofitable. In addition, the new restructuring includes ticket increases, new ways of repressing “stowaways”, as well as sophisticated systems of control and surveillance.
They also have a further hidden benefit through the introduction of cards on the pretext of a “fair” ticket that will be charged based on the passenger’s route, while lots of data will be recorded so that the State is able to know precisely our movement in the city. To enforce all of the above and to repress freedom of movement, passenger solidarity and make public transport even more inaccessible, barricades are being installed, more ticket controllers are being employed, more cameras have been put up and cops recruited. And the cost of all of this restructuring is transferred on to us.
Of course this restructuring is not at all accidental. In recent years we have observed restructuring across society (wage cuts, scrapping social security, cuts in social benefits) aimed at the intensification of class exclusion, the lowering of common standards and services but also increased repression and control over our lives. Capital, to maintain its dominance amidst the crisis, on the one hand attacks workers by dismissing established workers’ rights and on the other, to ensure social consensus, tries to convince us that all of this “is done for our own good”. OASA moves with the philosophy suggested by capital: it exacerbates the attack against us, forcing us to give a two-digit percentage of our already reduced minimum wage for our daily transportation.
The drivers themselves and the OASA employees must show solidarity to those who cannot or do not want to pay for a ticket, realizing that the restructuring in course intensifies their own work, while leaving the “door” of privatization open. Besides, their work interests are not the same as those of the administration of OASA and more broadly of the State and capital.
We, for our part, migrants, unemployed, students, workers, will move freely for whatever reason we want. Already there has been a wide range of responses with protests in the mass transport system, posters, microphone gatherings, texts and info sharing on buses and stations, protests against auditors, sabotage of validation machines and ticket offices. We have come to give our contribution to this multiform struggle. In June we interfered with bus lines, destroying or displacing 20 new and 3 old ticket validation machines, at the same time throwing leaflets about free movement. We will continue to stand in solidarity with our fellow passengers without tickets. We will continue to sabotage every control system, everything that restricts our freedom.
MULTIFORM MASS STRUGGLE FOR FREE TRANSPORT FOR EVERYBODY-NO CONTROL-HOLES IN THE VALIDATION MACHINES-BEAT THE AUDITORS-