Between steel and fire: The 2011-12 nine-month-long strike of the metalworkers at Hellenic Steel


1 October 2023


Volume 1 – Number 11

How to cite

Theodore Nikias



In October 2011 Greece was in the midst of an economic crisis. The first austerity measures had already been adopted and the International Monetary Fund and the Greek government were planning further burdens to the economic and social life of the people as a means to overcome the bad situation for the Greek economy. These changes were actually overturning basic labour rights which had been gained for the employees as a result of the trades unions’ struggles and the political decisions of the previous decades, especially during the 1970s and the 1980s. Redundancies, wage reductions, streamlining of labour relations against the workers were common strategic solutions for the employers during the years of economic crisis. All these were accompanied with provocative and cynical blackmail towards employees to accept the changes in order to retain their jobs. In this framework, the same dilemmas were posed in the metal factory Hellenic Steel in Aspropyrgos. From 31st October, a massive strike had started in the factory. Lasting nine months (273 days), it was the longest strike in the history of modern Greece and probably one of the longest generally in the history of the working-class movement. Here, I examine the strike, the tactics of both employers and employees and its impact. Through these questions, other aspects will emerge, such as the development of class solidarity by other workers to the strike, the evolution of the workers’ demands, the fatigue of the long-term struggle, the role of the other trades unions. Finally, the influence of the strike over the workers and the trades unions nowadays.


Strike, Metalworkers, Steelworkers, Working class, Greece, Economic crisis, Hellenic Steel, PAME, GSEE, Aspropyrgos, Labour movement, Unions, Greek industry, Scabs, Metallurgical factory, Steel industry