On behalf of PAME (All Workers Militant Front), the class oriented trade unions movement of Greece, I salute today’s, big meeting of the trade unions of South Europe and the Mediterranean. It’s our great pleasure to be here with you, our class brothers the same moment that in Greece the banners of PAME and WFTU are flooding the streets, today December 14, day of big General Strike.
A few months ago, when here in Marseille you organized a very big strike rally, a delegation of PAME was right here with you and expressed in action the solidarity of the class oriented trade unions of Greece along with the struggle of the working class of France and the GCT UD 13. And today, day of the General Strike in Greece we thank you for the great expression of your international solidarity. Today, as also in our everyday struggles. Especially your support for the struggles that are brutally attacked by the employers, the governments, the police. Against the repression and the intimidations by the employers, the working class fights back with the strengthening of its organization, the strengthening of Solidarity.
Dear comrades, the initiative for this meeting is very important, especially for those forces in the union movement that are concerned and troubled for the developments and the worsening of the life and the working conditions of the working class. This situation comes in a time that human work, based on the achievements of science and technology, leads to production of wealth incomparable to that of the past. Yet, we see this terrifying contrast, as officially the international Media reported that today 8 persons, have wealth equal to that of the half planet. We the workers, we witness the contradiction to work and not to be able to cover the basic needs of our families. Even worse is the situation for the young workers, the unemployed, or the half-workers, with the flexible forms of work that the capital has imposed using the governments that serves it.
In this already hard situation is also added the continues escalation of the imperialist competitions, the fight of the monopolies and the imperialist centers of NATO, the EU, of USA-RUSSIA-CHINA etc for the control of the markets, the sources of energy and the roads of their transportation. Developments that are escalated by the recent provocative recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, by the USA. In these competitions the victims are the people who suffer the destruction of their countries, the murdering of hundreds of thousands, the creation of millions of refugees. In these conditions the system breeds again the black snake of fascism, of racism. It prepares the escalation of the repression against the working –people’s movement. This is why it’s not by accident that in France and in Greece, and in all over the world both the capital and its governments systematically promote the attack against trade union rights and freedoms, against the right to go on Strike.
We dear comrades are here today, exactly because we think and we believe that this situation is not a one way street. The working class does not live in poverty and wretchedness because god wills it. Today, this year, we celebrate and we honor the 100 years from the revolution of the proletarians in Russia and the foundation of the first workers’ state. We know that the working class can be, and will be the owner of the wealth it produces. We know that the working class can and will abolish the capitalist exploitation.
But comrades, we know that today the situation for the trade union movement in Europe is negative and is dominated by the forces of defeatism and fatalism. We know very well that in the trade unions in Europe, instead of militancy, action and class struggle, dominates bureaucracy, corruption, class collaboration. Unfortunately we know very well and from our own country, that many trade unions have turned from unions of defense and struggle of the workers, into mechanisms of representatives of the employers. Mechanisms of the business groups for the submission of the workers.
It’s not by accident that in Greece, the wage cuts have the signature of GSEE (General Confederation of Workers of Greece), which is a member of ETUC in Greece, and has accepted and officially signed the cut in minimum wage by 25%, while for the young workers have signed with the bosses even greater cuts, reaching up to -32%.
Following the argument of “supporting competiveness and profitability” of the business groups, they accept every anti-workers measure, every demand of the employers. Meanwhile, they have even reached today to accept Government’s control to the trade unions, the restriction of trade union rights, even the banning of our right to go on strike.
Of course this is the line that the forces of ETUC promote all over Europe, since this is the role of ETUC. It’s not an accident that in the past few weeks the EU, along with the employers and ETUC, they all took pictures together to advertise the so called EUROPEAN PILLAR OF SOCIAL RIGHTS. And what was the position of ETUC?
The Secretary of ETUC, Visentini said “This is the time for unity and solidarity, this is the time to build up the future of Europe, a future that must be prosperous and social. Be sure that trade unions,with all social partners, will be on your side to deliver.”
Meaning, he gave his promise to the bosses and the leaders of the EU that the role of ETUC will be to stand by their side for a future with profits. A future of prosperity for the society that exploits instead of the society that works and produces. The ETUC calls the workers to be united in this cause.
This is the role of ETUC! This is the role of the trade unions of class collaboration! This is the role of the social dialogues and social peace! Trade unions inactive, discredited, away from the workers, faithful lapdogs of the bosses. They even reached the point, with the words of Visentini to claim that for the refugee crisis the cause is the climate change (http://euromaidanpress.com/2017/10/03/eu-not-addressing-the-migration-problem-properly-eu-trade-union-chief/#arvlbdata)
Trade unions that will line up behind the employers, behind the governments that support capitalism. That is why it is characteristic the efforts of many forces to lead the workers behind political forces and parties, that under the label of the “left” or “progressive”, they act against the workers movement. The role of these of forces is dirty, like the SYRIZA Government in Greece, which from one side talks about the Left, and on the other side governs together with a racist, nationalist party. It gives congratulations to Trump and funds NATO with billions, but at the same moment it shuts down hospitals and schools in Greece. SYRIZA speaks about democracy and “fair growth” while it cuts wages and pensions, it sends the riot police to attack the workers, who have nothing to eat and SYRIZA event attempts to abolish the right to Strike.
But the business groups and the governments they also use more mechanisms to control the workers’ movement. For example the EU and the German State, they fund foundations like the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), the ROSA LUXEMBURG Foundation and some NGOs. An example is that the FES received from the EU and the German Government funding of 137.000.000 euros only in 2010. 2010 (http://www.fes-ethiopia.org/pages/about-fes/facts-and-figures.php).
But the workers in Greece today we have experience. We know that the workers of Europe we need another movement. We need trade unions massive, militant, organized and determined. Loyal to the principles of class struggle, of solidarity and internationalism. Trade unions that will unite the workers independently of religion, color, sex or race, but as workers against the common enemy, the business groups. We need trade unions that will demand, that will fight, that they’ll win one by one the rights of the workers until their final victory.
Such trade unions cannot accept the arguments of the employers, or to become supporters of the one or the other government that promises development in favor of the workers and profits for the capitalists. These arguments have led the workers to disappointment, to withdrawal from the fight.
We need trade unions that will put in the first line the modern needs of the working class, unions that will fight for the whole life of the worker and its family. They will put obstacles to the anti-workers policies, they will stop measures, and they will create conditions for the counterattack of the working class.
With this direction, we recently succeeded in Greece with the metal workers, in the shipping yards, after 9 months of struggle to sign the first Collective Contract in the recent years with significant raises in the salaries, with the recognition of a series of rights, such as protection for the health and safety of the workers. A contract that along with the better salaries it establishes work of 7 hour/day–5 day/35hour per week. At the same the contract imposes 100% raise from the first hour of overtime.
For sure one success is not enough, but it’s a victory that can be our guide, a success that shows that even in the most difficult conditions, against gods and demons, the working class with faith in its own strength, with organization, with solidarity, with determination we can impose our rights.
For these reasons we believe that all the trade unions that oppose to exploitation, to poverty of the workers, all the trade unions that fight against the delusions for fair development within the capitalism, all the trade unions of Europe that oppose to the rottenness and the defeatism that is cultivated by the forces of class collaboration, we must support initiatives and actions like today’s. We must support this attempt of the militant forces and of WFTU.
We have to see initiatives for meetings and common actions of the trade unions, independently of the differences that we might have, that agree that the Working Class has to Counterattack. All the trade unions that we believe in the principles of the Fight, Solidarity and Internationalism. All the trade unions that we believe that for the workers the only way is to fight against exploitation and imperialism for the life and the future of the working class.
This is why we believe that today’s initiative, the meeting of the trade unions of the Mediterranean is important to create the preconditions for the workers of our countries to respond to the offensive of imperialism, to the plans of the monopolies and the Governments that serve them. For the Mediterranean to become a sea of peace and prosperity for the peoples.