Intervention in WFTU’s Presidential Council, December 2020
PAME, Greece, George Perros, WFTU Vice President
On behalf of PAME, we send you militant, comradely greetings. Wishes for strength and health to all.We wish new strength and new struggles to the World Federation of Trade Unions, which this year completed 75 years of struggle, 75 years of action for the world working class.We express our solidarity to the people of Palestine, Cuba, Syria, to all the peoples who fight against imperialism.
From here we would like to express our sympathy for the victims of the pandemic, the hundreds of thousands of dead of our class. And mainly the militant health workers, the workers in Commerce, the transport workers and of all the industries that were at the forefront of the pandemic. On behalf of the class unions of Greece we express our grief to the CTC of Cuba and the WFTU for the death of comrade Cardona, for all the comrades that we lost.
We salute the heroic contribution of socialist Cuba, the CTC and the internationalist doctors, nurses, health workers of the HENRY REEVES Brigade. At a time when imperialists and multinationals are waging new, trade wars over vaccines, medicines, and turning health into a commodity, Cuba of workers’ power has shown how much a system where working class is in power of the wealth it produces has to offer humanity.
Dear comrades, as we speak humanity is in a new capitalist crisis. A crisis that the pandemic accelerated. A crisis that brings with it both a new savage attack on the wages and labor rights of the working class, and a terrible attack on the democratic and trade union rights of the workers.
In Greece, between the two waves of the pandemic, the Greek Government did not take any substantial measures to strengthen the Public Health System, did not hire doctors and health staff, did not open new hospitals, did not strengthen public transport, did not order the requisition of private health facilities.
Instead, it imposed a ban on demonstrations. It legislated unpaid work. It legislated the abolition of the 8-hour workday by imposing a 10-hour workday. It legislates the prohibition of the strike, and the abolition of the General Assemblies of the workers. It attacked workers’ rallies and demonstrations again and again. They arrested dozens of trade unionists. While with its persecution it leads unions and trade unionists to financial annihilation, through the imposition of huge fines.All this was done to secure the power and profits of business groups.
Against this situation, PAME took a series of initiatives and actions at national and international level. Despite the weaknesses, delays or mistakes we may have made in these unprecedented circumstances from the first moment of the outbreak of the pandemic, we gave the slogan WE STAY STRONG! Under the masks we have a voice!
Taking all the necessary protection measures, we fought for the continuous operation of the unions, their presence and intervention in the workplaces. The protection of workers from both the pandemic and the employer-government’s attack. On March 19 in Athens, in the middle of quarantine, took place the first militant action of Health workers, demanding immediate support measures for public hospitals. The rally broke the government-imposed ban on protests. In the next period, actions were carried out in sectors such as Health, Commerce etc. Initiatives are taken for workers affected by the measures. In cooperation with the WFTU, dozens of European unions co-sign a joint declaration to protect workers and their rights from the pandemic. On May 1st, the flags of the WFTU and PAME are waving in a large rally in front of the Greek Parliament under “organized disobedience” against the bans of the Government that wanted to erase the May Day celebration this year.
In the summer we participated in the important initiative of the WFTU against racist murders in the USA but we also supported international initiatives of the tourism unions and the TUI Public Services in Europe to coordinate the action of the workers in Health services of Europe. Before the new quarantine, we organized mass rallies and mobilizations. We also organized events in various sectors and the youth for the 75th anniversary of the WFTU, and for solidarity with Palestine. We gave a decisive response to fascism and racism by condemning the Nazi-criminal Golden Dawn organization and the imprisonment of its leaders.
We organized actionsthat broke the silenceand the Greek Government attacked them with violence but also slander and anti-communism. They failed. The voice of the workers was heard. And in this direction we will continue for the next period.
However, making our self-criticism, dear colleagues, we will say that in these circumstances we did not succeed to contribute more decisively to the rallying of new forces with the WFTU in Europe. The dirty role of the ETUC, the cultivation of disappointment and defeatism in these particular conditions were factors that dominated the union movement in Europe. Throughout this period, the role of these forces has been to co-form and co-sign with Employers-EU and Governments the new anti-workers’ measures that serve the competitiveness and profitability of multinationals. Such was the role of the GSEE in our country.
But also the last period, the two lines in the international trade union movement in our country and internationally have become even clearer. A number of European trade unions, against the bans, were steadfast in the workplaces, next to the workers, organizing rallies and mobilizations. So we have the duty as PAME, to get in touch with these unions, to support them, to express them the solidarity of the class unions and to discuss with them, about the class movement and its perspective that can give a new, militant spirit in workers’ struggles.
To strengthen the fight against our common enemy.The capitalist exploitation that impoverishes the working class. Imperialism, which escalates the interventions, wars, embargoes, sanctions, imposed in a number of countries by the US, EU, NATO, Israel.To demand immediate measures to protect workers and the peoples facing the pandemic and the anti-workers’ attack. To requisite now the private health sector, which is speculating while human lives are being lost. For exclusively Public-Free Healthcare for all.
In this direction we agree with the action plan proposed by the Secretariat and we will give all our forces for its implementation.