Introduction to the Meeting of The National Committee of PAME
We discuss today a few days after the government change, to program and plan our action for the next period. In these circumstances we should understand the nature of the new developments so as not to underestimate the government change and the line for social cohesion, ie class collaboration.
It has started a well prepared propaganda campaign by the government that seeks to convince that it has nothing to do with the previous governments. We need good monitoring of the overall government policy and its maneuvering, as well as the developments in each sector. We must not lose the main issue, that is, what is the main character of the government; that it came to help, to take all measures necessary for the capitalist recovery and profitability of the monopolies, for the manipulation of the workers.
The government is using the hopes and expectations of the workers trying to easily pass its plans, promoting a new agreement with their “partners” calling the new Memorandum, Agreement and the troika an institutional monitoring and surveillance mechanism.
The coalition government has launched a negotiation for a new program, with some changes, seems to lead to a compromise that will mean new measures against workers, continuation of Calvary.
Currently the negotiations of the Government are within the EU context, within a general war of competing interests that exists in the euro area and the EU and with the direct and active intervention of the USA. It is naive to believe that Obama’s statements, who represents those who have butchered the world, suddenly was sympathetic for workers’ living conditions. The bottom line is that there is a war of interests of states, business groups, on who will come out as winner from the crisis and from its development or at least who will loose the less. And this confrontation involves managing debt and the mixture of management policy. Certainly there are forces such as France, Italy, the US, who are seeking relaxation of austerity through the so called restrictive policy. This relaxation is to save resources, which will be given as aid in capital investment, to enhance the profitability and competitiveness of the Capital.
What do they negotiate about?
To increase wages and pensions?
To improve social services in health, education, workers?
This must be clear. And of course in this confrontation the Greek government is involved, taking sides. The bottom line is that the next day there will be a program. This program if its called something else and not Memorandum or if it is not supervised by employees of Troika but by the surveillance mechanisms, the EU has created, that is not a change in favor of the people.
In its Program Declarations, the new government tried with the constant references to pride and dignity to hide the credentials it gave to the EU and big business. To hide the poverty and the crumbs that promises to the workers who have lost most of their rights.
It is therefore necessary to further strengthen in the working class and the youth, the movement, the line of counter-attack and struggle for another type of development for the working class and the people. The line opposed to the capitalist path of development, the EU and the policy that cultivates submission and passive waiting.
The working class, the movement must resolutely repel the false slogans for “national unity and pride”. Patriotism for us is the right of the people and not the interests of the capitalists. Criterion for us is to meet the modern needs of the people and not the profits of capitalist enterprises. We are two different worlds.
The people, the working class movement should be neither spectator nor applauders of the negotiations between the bosses, not to get trapped in the plans of the capital for new memorandums and negotiations. Contrary, we must be protagonist fighters for our rights, to cover the losses and today’s demands for changes, for another path of development.
The working class and its movement have no interest in supporting government policy for the new “memoranda” if they are called “proud”. Without demanding pressure, without class struggle there is no prospect, no hope.
The confrontation line, therefore, is specialized in the basic-general demands:
Coverage of all losses and rights
Struggle to meet the contemporary workers’ and people’s needs
Development for the people
We are not satisfied with some crumbs or charity. We demand, we claim everything that was stolen from us, everything we deserve.
The rise of SYRIZA (sosialdemocratic)-ANEL(far-rigth, nationalist) coalition-government into power sets new condtions for the trade union movement and forces us to substantially improve our work in the trade unions, to reconstruct, revitalize the movement. They will try to bring the trade union movement to meet the needs of the new government policy. Under the banners of social cohesion, consensus, social dialogues, they will reorganize the government and employers’ trade unionism to put obstacles in the rise of the class struggle and the strengthening of PAME. The reform of the political scene will affect the trade union movement. The processes will be accelerated. De facto will open the issue of for the leaderships in GSEE and ADEDY, Labour Centres, Federations.
Immediate and important task is the good and organized preparation of our forces for their congresses in federations, regional trade union centers, trade unions that have elections the next period. Elections should not be an issue of the last month. It is the peak of the activity for every trade union and the beginning of a new course where you have to judge the quality of our work and its links with the working class and the result of our work is the rise of class consciousness, in rallying forces, strengthening the class movement. In this direction we all agree, but in practice there are differences, problems and shortcomings are not addressed decisively.
It is the duty of all forces in a sector, taking into account that a positive contribution, changes correlations not only in one industry but also in general level. Do take into account that 2016 is the conference of GSEE, the Regional Trade Union Center of Athens, the Federation of Workers in Private Sector and many other Federations and Labour Regional Trade Union Centres. Our main goal should be the strengthening of the class pole, the clustering of new powers to go and win the majority of new unions.
Through this way we shape the conditions of the movement that we want; a strong workers movement that can stand as a wall of resistance, counter-attack against the state, the governments, the capital and the EU.
In this direction we have to fight against obvious weaknesses that make our work difficult.
It is crucial the matter how we process the line, the context of the struggle in every place and industry. Not a few times, is that the general framework of struggle and planning that helps to unify the fight, to rally forces, to target, to form conditions that promote the reconstruction, is getting lost or displayed as a banner and we continue to work on the beaten track with individual sectoral problems and individual problems that break out, cutting off, isolating, from the general issues that affect and create the individual problems in each sector. With greater concern we must think: How do we relate the general issues relating with the working class within each industry and its specifics, so as to raise the level of participation and promote the reconstruction of the workers’ movement. How do we destroy the line of other class collaboration; How do we reveal the line and the tactics of the governmental and employers’ trade unionism. In conclusion, how do we rally forces under the line of class struggle? For this general problem it is an obligation to help each Secretariat of PAME, in sector or region, to specify, to plan the intervention of our forces, to examine the progress of the work.
A central problem to solve is to open the conversation, to generalize the experience on how to prepare the general meetings, conferences by trade union and workplace. The workers’ meetings are a school where forces are trained, strengthen the ties among workers, are a means for changing correlations. That is why they are fought by the other forces.
Another issue to correct is the organized discussion, the meetings for the workers to express opinions, those involved in the demonstrations, in the collective processes. What is to blame for those meetings not being organised? Wherever they take place, there are positive results. It shows confidence in the working class.
We must also improve the relations of the Branch trade Unions with the work places. It is very important the Board of the TU to know, to have in front of them the entire industry and thus to be able to organize, order forces, especially within the monopoly groups. We must address weaknesses, opinions, attitudes that create obstacles in our work. There are trade unions that do not work, that the Board do not meet, reproducing general announcements, where the general meetings are unprepared, formal without making substantive discussion.
We must be more concerned about the situation of the movement in each prefecture. There is responsibility both in the central and the local secretariats. There are whole Counties without sectoral unions in key sectors while there are many TUs by enterprise, which in most cases their relationship with the employers, are provocative. In almost all cities there are Industrial Areas with thousands of workers and laborers, with problems, appalling working conditions, with hunger wages. Our intervention in most cases is inadequate or minimum. This serious problem is not solved by wishful thinking nor machina gods. This needs specialized action, perseverance and painstaking work and intervention to get the water in the ditch. Mostly it requires fighting against routine type of work and giving up in the face of difficulties.
Another issue that should concern us is the fragmentation of the trade union movement. There are prefectures with 2-3 Regional Trade Union Centres and similar is the situation in first level trade unions. There are also fake trade unions with fake elections that only serve at manufacturing representatives in service of the employers. A typical example is the Trade Union of Hotel Employees of Pyrgos that registered 600 members. After the intervention of our forces it could prove only 29. How do we intervene here then? How do you prevent such degenerative phenomena?
The next period we must utilize well the rich experience of the work done for the National rally of PAME in November. The opening we made and the trade unions that took decisions of participation and that do not agree in everything with PAME. To single them out by sector, evaluate them for the future. To stabilize the discussion, debate, constant contact, giving them duties within the movement can expand our influence. The forces that attempted to complicate us, to prevent the rallying with the class movement were not vindicated. This shows that there are honest trade unions, unions that have open ears. In this direction we have to become more invasive, especially in youth. To open war union by union and isolate the employers’ people, create them obstacles.
The main and basic is building on the experience of that period is to maintain the initiative, not to wait for others, the GSEE and ADEDY. To continue with our own independent action plan, taking into account the new development.
We must continue with a single coherent action plan.
We start in any trade union, industry and region from what we won throughout this period (the opening, rallying, the new people, the steps in the formation of the social alliance, etc.). But it needs to be understood that the consolidation and expansion of these earned require new initiatives both centrally and locally by branch. At the rally there was a central core framework of demands. These remain with the necessary additions.
The forces of PAME must stand at the front and fight against the passive waiting and “solutions that will come from others” that is cultivated. To sound the alarm in every place. To fight the “reducing our demands” argument that will take us far behind our conquests and rights. The argument that says if the government “does at least a couple of things all is good” that is cultivated by the new government, and others. Do not accept the argument that the anti-peoples government policy will reveal itself if the forces of PAME do not do anything, without strengthening the struggle against the government and employers’ trade unionism, new and old, against the employers, if we do not develop action generally and by industry and place of work.
For the action plan
These developments and the need to reconstruct the movement impose dynamic interventions. Our needs, the needs of the workers and popular families are above all and at the forefront of our demands. These needs can not be always put on the bed of Procrustes, in each government change. They are specific, permanent and constantly evolving based on the developments of science, art, culture and wealth produced by our own work and they have a name.
It is the permanent and steady job for all and above all for our children today and tomorrow. Work with humane conditions, with restoration of stable working conditions and safety, to ensure trade union rights and freedoms. Minimum basis 5day, 8 hour-a-day, 40 hour-a-week.
Adequate salaries, wages and pensions that will cover the basic needs of our families, to ensure a decent standard of living and guaranteed by Collective Contracts.
Coverage undr social responsibility of our families’ basic needs in health, education, housing, special care for young couples and their children, women and the elderly.
Ensuring the necessary free time for rest, recreation, vacation with the necessary social infrastructure that will allow workers to participate in and enjoy the products of civilization that ourselves with our work we create.
These basic needs do not fit the rules and agreements of the EU, in old and new memorandums. These are tailored to the needs of the capital. EU is not our home. It is the home of the monopolies. It has constructed a strategy to shield their interests at the expense of the working class by smashing the basic rights and conquests of the workers. Those are inconsistent with the sovereignty of monopoly capital in each sector of economic and social life. Enough we have shed our blood, we suffered, us and our families for the few to get richer with our own sacrifices. The wealth they dominate and particularly the means of production is our stolen work. We can not continue along the same path. We must not be fooled again. We experienced many changes of government. And today, like its predecessors, it hides that our own sufferings, our own losses were turned into privileges for the few.
This system is rotten and in stark contrast to our needs, the needs of society for growth and prosperity for the benefit of the many, the people. It generates crises, wars, poverty, unemployment, permanent insecurity, increased exploitation. This system cannot be corrected, it does not change and he, who proclaims such objectives, as the current government and the parties supporting it, are not with the workers, they are against us.
Our needs require a different path of development for pro-people policy, against the EU commitments and the interests of the monopolies. For such changes we organize our forces and our alliance. Such a movement we are fighting to organize.
We need to further strengthen within the working class, the youth and the movement the line of the counterattack and rupture, opposed to the capitalist path of development, the EU and the policy that supports this way, of cohesion and passive waiting. Today are present and against the people the EU’s lasting memoranda, the objectives of competitiveness and of the new recovery in the profitability of capital, leading to higher bankruptcy of the people and can not solve the acute problems of the people, as unemployment. The coalition of SYRIZA – ANEL and other parties serving this unpopular road, try to embellish it in the eyes of the people.
From the point of the people’s interest we will deal with the government’s change. This means for us to intensify the efforts to reconsruct the movement. This specifically means to activate the trade unions, differentiate and free forces from the poison of the class collaboration, work for new forces to join the action with target to change the correlations. To repulse beliefs, strategies and linings under someone else’s flag, to reveal opinions and beliefs for “national pride and dignity”.
Our action for the next period must help so the workers won’t be trapped in the logic of negotiation, anticipation, tolerance and should not accept the crumbs that the government will be giving. They need to come to α conclusion. They need to emancipate.
At this base the forces of PAME must come forward to each and every demand to every industry and the working places. They must be at the front line for maters of raises, lay offs, reducing salaries. To organize interventions – fights, local, sectoral, in businesses and groups.
The working class owes no tolerance and no waiting to any government since we know to our flesh and blood that tolerance and waiting so far have lead us only into a waste of time for the working class and the capital, the monopoles are wining time. On the contrary we must be in constant alert for immediate response with massive demonstrations, with changing forms of struggle even a strike in front of the new agreement and the new memoranda no matter how they are called. To bring in front the slogan:”No more with the mockery. Capitalists should pay “.
The announcement of PAME “For the Immediate Demands of the Working Class” gives our basic direction and the line of struggle for the next days. It needs to be used well and to open conversations in an organized way from the top to the bottom, in working places, everywhere. The trade unions must quickly go to meetings wide and massive and have a meaningful conversation in Boards with a program for tours and meetings.
To work with the list of demands that we had at the demonstration in November 1st, of course with the addition of demands of every sector. Our opponent is the business groups and against them we should open a well planed war. It needs to be understood that the employers have the government and we have our program our demands. The confrontation with the forces of SYRIZA will be great, and it will be followed by attack against us. That’s why our presence is needed for everywhere, at the general meetings to be well prepared, careful, with arguments that they will reveal their true positions and will project our proposals with a complete way.
We must create the uprising of the demands of the working class. The workers should not accept any new anti peoples’ measures. They should not accept to live with crumbs. We must not let them be disappointed that might lead them to be conservative.
More specifically, suggestions for our action plan:
For social security – pensions – healthcare
From the policy statements of the government and also from the new Minister comes out that for the restoration of the losses that has happened in the years of memoranda these are claimed to be restored partially and depending on the recovery rate of the economy starting from the small pensions.
On the same time the basic structure that raised the retirement age at 67 years of age, that made “men and women equal“, that defined 40 years of insurance instead of 35 for the right for full pension, in conclusion that legalized work till old age and evaporated the savings of the Social Funds, will continue to exist with the new government.
Stronger and without any delay we must fight back the logic of “realism and competitiveness of the economy” as a requirement for the return of the losses.
To support the initiatives and struggles of the pensioners’ trade unions, who must quickly reestablish the list of demands for immediate restoration of the losses, for bringing back the 13th and 14th pension without any criteria of income etc. To have our eyes and ears open for the arrangements that might happen.
Industries that were hit from the attack against social insurance can’t be standi by with their hands crossed, ie construction workers. They are already programming interventions for the limits of retirement age. We have to see an intervention and initiatives from other industries as well.
It needs a steady front against privatizations, at the Professional Funds. The position of SYRIZA before and of course now as a government is the reinforcement of the Professional Funds. At the policy statements there wasn’t even one word for their future. Especially the industries that have experience must come forward with initiatives to reveal them, for example the medicine industry.
As we have said before the social insurance isn’t only about pensions. Bringing back the losses won’t be only about the wages. Beyond the statements of the government we must demand to open again the hospitals that were closed for the interest of the private ones. There should be absolutely no payment for health services. To hire people at the hospitals. Social insurance is also about the preventive health through the Health Centers and the conditions of Health and Safety at the workplaces.
To give back the reserves taking the money from the tax reliefs of the big capital had.
Finally, we suggest to go in to a workshop for the social insurance at April where we are going to discuss the positions and demands of the class-oriented trade union movement, for the social security system that we need.
For unemployment and the unemployed
Our demands on unemployment must be an key issue for all sectors and trade unions. To put in total our position for the relief and the needs of the unemployed starting from the demand for full cover and support of all the unemployed, with a raise (at 600€ meaning at the 80% of the minimum wage) and time expansion for the whole period of unemployment.
It’s a characteristic that even if the government is turning her propaganda to confront of the humanistic crisis there is lack of any statement for the situation of unemployment and how to deal with it, the raising for example of the of unemployment benefit, its expansion to all the unemployed, the time expansion of it, ext. on the contrary the dealing of poverty is continued through the “employment programs” and at the same time the only reference to unemployment was vague.
Based to the actions and the interventions we have developed through the past years, the trade unions should prepare the ground with announcements and callings to the new generations of workers that will come in 5 month-programs. These programs will begin in the next two months and are estimated that over 50,000 workers will be contracted through them in the public sector.
At the same time we must intensify our confrontation and demand to stop here and now with a law the unaccepted status quo with the outsourced workers and the slave trade offices. The drastic reduce that is announced by the new government doesn’t mean a thing. The only certain thing is that they promise they will continue the slavery.
It is multiplied the number of workers that they are for a long time unpaid and they demand accrued wages. Big Trade unions and Federations that are dealing with the most intensified problems (Metal workers – Construction workers – Lithographers) they should call to coordination with other sectors and industries for example sector that evolve contractors and leave the workers unpaid (cleaning). At the Employment Agency a big part of the part-time workers is still unpaid.
We must demand the abolition of all the laws that allow rodent-organizations (SCE-NGOs-VTC) to be able to control programs for the unemployed, to use the unemployed as a field for profits. At this direction we must see initiatives in every municipality from trade unions and local organizations with the people’s and unemployed committees that will demand reinforcement of the social structures. To exercise pressure to the prefectures and the government.
The previous time there where good and to the point interventions from the trade unions, with demands that where rallying the unemployed, uninsured and unpaid. We can reestablish this activity to every sector, going immediately in to meetings of the unemployed committees. Its sector must see the demands that will help to the rallying, the unity and participation.
The construction workers can and must take responsibility so they will be in the front line for raising demands for the flood protection, antiseismic, fireproofing works that answer to the modern people’s needs and at the same time they create thousands of jobs.
At the end because of the Easter holidays we should plan new events of solidarity in many forms that will help to come in touch with the unemployed, to rally them. Keep in mind the conversation we had at the Executive Secretariat for the issue of solidarity. We seek to create a movement that fights for its rights and doesn’t beg. Especially in the hundred of sectors that the workers are unpaid we have to take initiatives and in coordination with the industries.
About the income, National Collective Agreement and the sectoral Collective Contracts
The main point that we should start is the slogan “here and now the basic-minimum wage should be restored back to 751 euros by law. Nobody should work for less than 751 euros”. The statements of the minister of labour –as they have been specified during the outline of government policy- show clearly their intention as far as the basic wage is concerned. The profits of the companies and their needs are above all. The market should not be “frightened”, the state budget should not fail as the height of the basic wage affects various allowances (e.g unemployment benefit etc).Furthermore the government has announced that the basic wages of 751 euros will be gradually restored and on the basis of collective negotiations. Benefits to the employers will be given as well.
GSEE has already applauded the government, stressing that “its policy is on the right way”. The new governmental tradeunionism is being formed and it has already cheered for crumbs that might be given, bargaining with the employers about the minimum.
In total the government has no intention to restore the previous losses. They have been given to the capitalists as a gift. As the new ministers said the wages in the public sector will be freezed for the next period. In addition they talked about “austere life” and transferring the return of the new minimum wage in the future. All the above should be a “red flag” to the working people.
The new government in fact is giving time and space to the employers so they can get prepared in order to adjust, organize and escalate, in a better and mere flexible way, the attack against sectoral wages and labor relations.
Colleagues, have in mind that the return of losses does not have only to do with the wages. It has also to do with the restoring of the abolished rights (compensations, allowances, insurance rights, dismissals etc)
Through general meetings at each sector we –well prepared and with a plan- should bring back the demand of wage restoration to the level of 2009’s. Then we should start negotiations with the employers. It’s a hard and complicated fight. Time should not be wasted. The government has already given enough time to the business groups so they can organize and attack against the labour rights.
E.g The National Merchants Association (ESEE) statements are very illuminating as far as the demand of the 751 euros wage is concerned. Although they agree to its gradual restoration, they ask for various prerequisites such as new privileges and total moving of the sector wages(that are higher than the minimum) downwards. Nestle Industry is another example. In this atmosphere of an artificial euphoria Nestle has no problem to announce a wage reduction.
The privatization policy that the new government has just announced is in fact the continuation of the so far policy. Its form is different. Not direct privatization but indirect one. SYRIZA, in fact, is not against the privatization policy but only against the way it is going to happen. It is very crucial to start fighting against the core of this policy on behalf of the people’s needs. To be more specific, we should shed light on the fact that any kind of indirect privatization and the development consortia lead up to more profits for the capitalists and extra burden for the working people. Substructures (metro, highways etc) which have already privatized -apart from the extra loads for working people- have not brought no relief or regaining of losses. (reduction of fares, tolls etc). On the basis of the above we should put in the front line of our claims the following:
The struggle against any kind of privatization, direct or indirect
The abolishment of the legislation that sets free the privatization of the strategic sectors of economy (energy, telecommunication, transportation, tolls, fares)
Only public and unified bodies (healthcare system, education etc.)
Immediate and drastic price reduction of electricity, water, energy, transportation, telecommunication for all unemployed people and people in need
It is a cause of war any attempt to reduce the employers’ taxation for social security. Increase of the capitalists’ social security share.
Our forces in ports, shipbuilding industry and airports can take informing and coordinating initiatives.
About the 8th of March
Celebrations and common tours can be organized by trade unions and women’s associations. Key issue of our demands can be the restoration of the reducted age limit (5 years) especially at those sectors which employ women in large percentage.
About the 1st of May
On the 1st of May our two-month activities should reach a zenith. This effort should be seen as a step towards the rally of the trade-union movement. The activities and initiatives for the successful and mass participation of workers, unemployed and young people should be an important point for the preparation of working people’s counter-attack. The exact content and the slogan for this year’s 1st of May will be proposed shortly.
We should do specified and attentive job at Employment Agency’s schools, at apprentices and at students that do their practice. The demands should be those that help their joining the unions and their mass participation. We should also reveal the leading role of the working class in the class struggle, the potentialities of living a better life, in a different social-economic system.
We can take the following central initiatives for the celebration of May Day.
We can start all the procedures for the worker’s football championship. We should develop this kind of initiatives all over the places. We must try to have the participation of teams from working places and sectors. It is an appealing initiative that joins hundreds of workers, students and helps them come closer to their union.
For the 15 years of PAME and for the 1st of May we can hold a concert, during which international labour songs will be heard. It could be programmed for the 26th of April and we can invite foreign representatives. The development of educational and cultural work from the part of the trade unions is a very essential aspect of the ideological intervention and influence. It shouldn’t be underestimated since it helps working people come closer to each other and makes them more class conscious.
A performance with theatrical play on the 5th of April would be another important initiative.
The new government is going to bring a new trade union law. We must be alert and well prepared. There are signs that show a clear intervention in the life and the activities of trade unions.
We are getting prepared immediately after the 1st of May in order to organize wide mass activities and initiatives so as the working class and their allies to give a national response against the new antilabour agreements of the Capital/ E.U/ I.M.F / O.E.C.D The experience and the work we have done for the national rally on the 1st of November in 2014 will be valuable.
We must bring up for discussion our demands in the perspective of organizing a movement and an alliance that would be able to carry out victorious class fights. We are determined to confront all the difficulties and all those mechanisms that put obstacles in our strong effort to move forward to the rally of the labour and people’s movement to the reconstruction of the trade union movement. We are going to be present at all the everyday battles in order to give a relief to the urgent everyday problems. We must stand by working people in the trade unions, at every working place, at neighbourhoods, villages and associations.
We fight for the rallying of trade union movement against the capitalists’ profits. Their capitalistic crisis and their debts have cost us a lot. We don’t intent to pay again competitiveness. We are fed up with unemployment, the constant mockery and the crumbs from their table. We can’t tolerate the waste and the pillage of the productive capacities of our country. We could use them instead –that is our will- in order to live a proper life.
Having in mind these declarations and demands we must discuss about the initiatives and the measure we should take in order to activate new forces in each place, town, neighbourhood and village.
National Coordinating Committee of PAME