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Multiform militant activity of the trade-unions against the anti-people's policy
In the evening of January 9, massive and combative demonstrations were organized in Athens, Thessaloníki and other big cities of Greece, following the resolutions of many sectoral Federations, Labor Centers and trade-unions against the new anti-people bill that the SYRIZA-ANEL government is about to present in the Parliament.
This bill foresees a series of measures that the government has agreed with the EU and the IMF in the context of the 3rd evaluation of its policies.
So, with this new packet of measures, the government, amongst other things, intends to deliver a blow to the workers’ right to declare strike. According to the new bill, in order for a grass-root trade-union to declare a strike, 50% of the enrolled members should agree with it. Furthermore, it is a measure that the government intends to approve under the pretext of “democracy”, when at the same time in the workplaces the terrorism of the bosses rules supreme, the danger of layoffs for participating in a demonstration is imminent, especially in conditions where unemployment looms reaching particularly high rates.
Moreover, this bill will extend the property auctions against those that have debts to the State (e.g. to the revenue service, to the social security funds) and will further cut the remaining social benefits.
The demonstration of the trade-unions in Athens began with a rally in Omonia Square and ended with a meeting of a representation of the demonstrators with the leadership of the Ministry of Labor. When the march reached the Ministry, the representatives of the workers demanded the doors of the Ministry to open so that they could meet with the political leadership of the Ministry. Since their demands were left unanswered, they opened the doors themselves. Shouting slogans such as “The law is the just cause of the worker and not the profits of the capitalist” and “worker without you no cog can turn, you can do without the bosses, they “renamed” the Ministry of Labor to something more appropriate of its day’s work: “Ministry of IMF-EU-Bosses”.
In continuation a representation of the trade-unions went to the office of the minister Efi Ahtsioglou, where she was accompanied by the vice-minister Theano Fotiou. The representatives of the workers stressed that it is a shame to abolish the right of strike, a right for which generations of workers have shed their blood. They denounced that the new bill put forward from the government is exactly the same with a relevant law of the previous New Democracy (ND) government and reminded them that 35 unionists of PAME will be tried on the 18th of February for a similar demonstration where they took part against the ND law of 2013.
The minister chose to respond to the demand of the representatives of the workers to retract the part of the bill relevant with the strike with a dry “no” and to leave the office without giving any clear answers to the issues raised by the representatives of the workers.
The demonstrators remained for a long time under the ministry, shouting slogans, while they painted a big slogan in the entrance of the ministry that reads “Hands off the right of strike”. At the same time their loudspeakers where calling the people to participate in the strike on January 12 and in the rallies of the same day, while the workers were hanging an enormous banner in the ministry’s front reading “Government-big capital-EU listen well: Hands off the right of strike. It’s a worker’s right”
The rally at Omonia square
The march began earlier from Omonia square shouting the slogan “You will not abolish the right of strike, no matter what law you approve”
Giannis Tasioulas, president of the Federation of Construction Workers took the floor in the rally. As he stressed, the bill contradicts the government’s narrative. “The government must snap out of the fairytales about democracy” he noted, making reference to the government’s propaganda to justify the changes in the way of trade-union decision making for strikes. Their essential objective, he stressed, is to establish state of control of the trade unions, to exercise a more asphyxiating control to the trade-union activity, to put bigger obstacles in taking decisions about strikes and combative demands.
The banner raised in the back of the stage read: “We advance to the counteroffensive. Hands-off the right of strike. Sign National General Collective Work Contract. 751 euro minimum wage. Sectoral Contracts with raises. Prohibit the auctions”.
The main slogan in the banners of the Federations and the Trade-Unions reads “Hands-off the right of strike”, and from the loudspeakers the workers are making a call of mass participation in the strike of January 12, decided by sectoral federations and labor centers. The majority in the trade-union confederations (GSEE-ADEDY) refused the proposal of the class oriented forces to call for a general national strike. Their decision was condemned by the class trade-unions that rally around the All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) that has made a wide call to trade-unions and sectoral Federations to participate in the 24-hour strike on Friday January 12 and to the rest of the militant initiatives organized in the next days.
In the morning of Wednesday January 10 workers of various trade-unions of the private and public sectors that rally in PAME organized a combative demonstration outside of the prime minister Mansion, demanding from the government to take back immediately the despicable bill that intents to crush the right of strike and extend the auctions of residences.