Delegates at the 4th National Congress of PAME,
comrades representatives of the WFTU, trade union representatives from 23 countries, our dear invited guests, we shake your hand and we welcome you. With collective decisions of their bodies 530 decisions of unions’ boards, 300 decisions of general meetings , we are here today 13 National Federations 14 Labour Centres 451 trade unions 52 Workers’ Committees of representing hundreds thousands of workers. This is the great force that constitutes the front of organizations of the working class, Federations, Labour Centres, trade unions, workers’ committees and unionists who for 17 years now, with hard struggles, became in the minds of the workers the class militant pole of rallying in the trade union movement, the All-Workers Militant Front, PAME.
Also, take part dozens of unions who decided to participate in our work as observers and dozens of elected trade unionists of federations and trade unions, who were invited to participate in the Congress.
With many unions we met for the first time in the great demonstrations, organized after the initiatives of PAME on unemployment, social security, the Collective Contracts, for the elimination of the anti-labour laws, the losses of wages and social benefits, for stable work with rights. In the large strikes that went down in history, like the heroic struggle of the steelworkers and other factories and sectors, in the general strikes, in the struggles of the previous years that were not few. These struggles have left their own legacy. More unions rallied with the class front breaking the inactivity, the defeatism, the line of compromise and class collaboration imposed by trade unionism controlled by the employers and the government in major unions, in the sectors and the organizations GSEE and ADEDY (ETUC members). On October 17 with over 530 unions we signed and submitted our demands demanding rights in work and life based on our times, the 21st century and our contemporary needs. Throughout the period of the outbreak of the capitalist crisis and the frontal attack unleashed against us the SEV (Hellenic Federation of Industrialists)and other employers’ organizations, the governments that serve them and their international organizations such as the EU and the IMF, is a period of rich lessons, whose study will give us valuable knowledge for the future, on the big issue of the reconstruction of the peoples-trade union movement about which many speak today, with different purposes and origins.
PAME Is Getting Stronger And Is Planning New, Bigger And More Militant Struggles
PAME, since the first day it was founded, in April 1999, faces the attack of the capital and its people. At the beginning it was the trade union forces of the social-democrats, the liberals, of SYN, what today is SYRIZA in the unions, among others, who used to talk about divisive activity. Later they changed that and they presented PAME as a political fraction in order to undermine PAME and its role. We need to clarify this confusion which is sometimes fuelled by our own reduced vigilance. We need constant struggle to make the sycophants and everybody distorting the truth shush. Their problem is the line of struggle, the orientation in which hundreds of unions are rallied and try to make this line dominate the trade union movement. Orientation and line of struggle against the wishes of the monopolies, business groups and companies, the political parties representing them, the EU. With demands formed according to how today workers are worth living and working based on the enormous potentials of science, the development of means of production, the wealth they produce and not according to the criteria of our exploiters, the entrepreneurship and competitiveness, the maximum profit. According to the prosperity of the many people who work and suffer and not the prosperity of the profits of a few ones. The innovation that PAME brought is the distinctive rally and action of the working class organizations that reject the damaging to the interests of the workers theory of social partnership, of the alleged common workers and employers’ interests who, around a table, fairly share the wealth produced, of “social dialogues”, of the unconditional surrender of the union movement. PAME became the true defender of workers in the trade union movement. Only during the period 2010 – 2015 it was at the forefront of dozens of general strikes, hundreds sectoral strikes in workplaces, demonstrations, rallies and occupations. It kept on its feet, against the wave of integration, subordination and decomposition, a significant force of unions and trade unionists who struggle militantly with a class line. Its slogans adopted by the wider working class and popular forces. PAME has been strengthened with new unions, of sectors and businesses, Labour Centres, it strengthened its influence and hundreds of young elected unionists work under its guideline, struggling to change the correlations in all sectors, to reconstruct the movement.
PAME took a clear position with militant actions and initiatives against the imperialist wars and interventions. It organized and keeps on expressing daily and with multiform ways its Solidarity with the refugees and immigrants.
It showed its solidarity with actions to the struggles of the workers, the people in other countries who also suffer.
PAME is actively involved in the international trade union movement in the ranks of the World Federation of Trade Unions and took a number of initiatives for the reconstruction of the trade union movement in Europe. PAME hosted the 16th World Trade Union Congress in Athens, on 2011 and is also hosting the Central Offices of WFTU. PAME also took part in the successful 17th World Trade Union Congress of WFTU, in Durban, South Africa, last October. In the previous years we organized international meetings for the workers of Multinationals in the Commerce, Retail, Telecommunications and also a Meeting with the TUI Public Services of the WFTU for the workers in the public sector and we also, participated in a number of respective international sectoral meetings.
In the coming years more powerfully, with new initiatives we will support the action to establish the class trade union pole in Europe, to strengthen the WFTU with new members. We believe that through these struggles, all our action has created a better infrastructure and better conditions to contribute more firmly in the effort to reconstruct the trade union movement internationally.
A serious obstacle to the class orientation was, and still remains, the false distinction between memorandum – anti-memorandum that exonerated the real causes, the system of exploitation. Behind the artificial title “anti-memorandum” were hidden the forces of employers with their own interests as well as other deeply reactionary, fascist forces. It has been systematically cultivated the acquittal of the big employers in the eyes of the workers, the logic of the common interest of workers-employers. To the prevalence of this distinction contributed also the government – employers’ controlled unionism, the forces of SYRIZA, the ANTARSYA (opportunists / leftists). This way SYRIZA came in the governance.
The struggles of all this period were basically against the effects of the crisis (closure of factories, layoffs, large wage-pension cuts, etc.). The massiveness and participation in the struggle of the strike did not correspond to the attack that we faced. A serious obstacle was the domination of the forces of compromise and submission to the labour – union movement in very important sectors, but also the weak organization of workers by sector in general. This is why there was no unified response of workers by sector and business group against the unified attack of the capital.
PAME was attacked for its vanguard role with different forms by the capitalists and their mechanisms. For this reason they used the Nazi criminal gang, the Golden Dawn against it. PAME is getting stronger and is planning new, bigger and more militant struggles drawing strength from the previous struggles. PAME is recognized because it didn’t change its positions, it was stable, it didn’t use the trade union movement to help the anti-workers’, anti-popular governments rise, neither chose among oppressors. It doesn’t divide the capitalist employers in good or bad, nor, by extension, their associations and their alliances into good or bad imperialists. Consistently it defends the class struggle and the labour interests. Enemies and friends recognize that it is the most coherent and militant section of the labour union movement, several more unions and many workers who retain some reservations look for PAME and its initiatives. With PAME and the struggles that it led there were some small victories, delays and obstacles in the all-out attack that emerged. Young workers joined theunions and the movement, a new generation of militants emerged who took over from the previous ones, they were educated in the values of the class struggle in conflict with employers and its mechanisms. Life has confirmed the correctness of the decision that was taken in this same hall by around 1500 unionists 17 years ago. Today is emerging the need for the strengthening of PAME and its widening with new unions, new forces.
In fact, today PAME emerges as the only force that can express the interests of the working class against the common and coordinated attack of the capital.We call in rally with PAME all those unions, which despite their reservations, are looking forward to the strengthening of the class pole. We clarify once again that the All-Workers Militant Front is neither a party nor an organization over and outside the unions. It is a rally of unions with class line of struggle against the class collaboration and the capitalist exploitation. The reconstruction of the union labour movement goes through this way.
Our Congress aims to equip the working class unions and organizations with knowledge and experience from the recent past and with a uniform planning, orientation and goals to reconstruct and counterattack, to build a militant class trade union movement of overturn and hope, as we write in our slogan.
New Era, New Conditions, The Same Opponent
We are going through a difficult and complex period, a new situation for the working class in our country has been formed at a great extent. The lives of the popular family have been turned upside down. The more-than-eight-years crisis has boosted the unemployment creating a huge number of unemployed people reaching the 1.5 million with the highest percentage of the long-term unemployed. Youth unemployment exceeds the 50%. The “industry” of the anti-popular anti-labor laws in order to make workers less expensive, more flexible has created a large mass of cheap severely exploited workers without rights at work. The relatively stable work with standard working hours, holidays, collective contracts, social security has been overthrown for the majority of the working class, particularly for the young people, as they confess themselves with their official data. It turned out that the memorandums were nothing more than the long lasting demands of the big employers for cheaper labour and higher profitability by increasing exploitation. The requirements of industrialists and other sections of the capital, as they had been declared 20 years ago in the EU White Paper on “flexicurity”, reduction on wage and non-wage costs, found the opportunity in the crisis and the recession of the movement to become laws.
The attack we face is in progress. And we are well aware of the fact that this has no end if we ourselves do not put an end with the power of organization, unity of the working class and with a plan to overthrow the anti-popular policy and the exploitative relations. The thirst of the capitalists for profit does not stop. They admit that the road to the recovery of their profits goes through the growing increase of the exploitation. They will not stop just because they decreased through their governments the lower wages by 21% and 32% for the young people, because the part-time work was boosted, which was aimed for years, and because they abolished the most of the sectoral collective contracts. They want even more, they demand to have no barriers, to be free to steal from the workers. To employ for as much as they want, to dismiss whenever they want, to pay whenever they want and as much as they want. They require restraint and prohibition of the trade union action, to marginalise the labour union movement, to make the whole country a large special economic zone of sever exploitation, abolition of what is left, through the struggles, in health, in social welfare, in education.
The aggressiveness of the capital is not accidental and temporary. This must be understood by the wide parts of the working class and this responsibility is on us.
The conditions are not the same as the past decades. The enormous accumulated funds are difficult to be reproduced. The strengthening of the monopolies and competition between them are setting new barriers in the increase of their profits, and that’s why they intensify the war against the working class in order to increase the rate of exploitation. One more indication that this system is based on the exploitation has reached to its historical limits. They do not invest out of kindness, nor for the development. They are interested exclusively in bigger profits.
The War Clouds Are Thickening. Solidarity Is The Weapon Of The Peoples.
There is no crime that they will not attempt to commit, if that increases their profits. The Greek bourgeois has proven many times before the aggression against other peoples and that it does not hesitate to take part in the bloodiest massacres, to drag our people in great adventures to claim a share of the loots of imperialist wolves, to play a more active role in the geopolitical chessboard, to improve its position. Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Libya are imperialist massacres with the Greek participation and support witin NATO only in the last 20 years. The developments warn us about the danger of generalized conflicts and imperialist wars. The home of the capitalists are their earnings, their home is Switzerland, Luxembourg and other tax havens. Billions euro made from our own effort and sweat. Those in the lists of Lagarde, Bogiarns and other foreign banks will not hesitate even for a moment to entangle in war the great majority of them who are in the lists of debts to the tax office, of unemployment, of soup kitchens and social tariffs. This is the way of the bosses to emerge from the crisis, to make the capitalist economy recover: deeper exploitation of their peoples and bloody redistribution of the borders, of the trade routes, of the energy, the markets and the spheres of influence, the exploitation of other peoples, too . This is what the capitalists, their parties and their governments call national targets. We have seen that happening before. PAME was founded in the struggles against the imperialist slaughter in Yugoslavia and Greece’s participation in this massacre. We see the exact same thing again in front of us. Our entire wider neighbourhood is in the fire, over one million refugees crossed the Aegean, the sea was full of dead people and the tragedy of the refugees continues. The passing of the imperialist in Athens the last weeks, of Russia with Lavrov and of US with Obama the other day, it is not for our benefit.
Their War Destroys Everything Their Peace Left Standing
It is our duty to strengthen within the trade unions, the struggle against nationalism, chauvinism, racism and imperialist war. To promote solidarity with other peoples, solidarity to refugees and immigrants, isolation of the criminal Nazi gang bosses, Golden Dawn, in every workplace. These problems can’t be outside the unions and because workers have no interest to shed their blood for oil, arms merchants, industrialists and bankers. We make it clear that the trade unions and organizations that constitute PAME will defend the interests of workers at work, salary, retirement, health, welfare, education, culture and peace under any circumstances. We do not accept any restriction on union activities and organization and will fight for it. We will not stretch out our hands for you to put chains on us. We do not accept our country, our ports, our islands, our airports, to become bases for imperialist slaughter and our children serving meat army for their cannons. We demand that the bases of death close, no involvement of Greece in NATO and European Union slaughterhouses
Here we must all take responsibility, to discuss how all the unions that are embedded in the class front will take their share of responsibility and put these requests at the forefront of the action.
We reject subordination, the consensus in the massacre of our rights. Within these conditions the industrialists require consensus of all political forces that support the road of trust and of course their factions and their people within the trade unions. SYRIZA, New Democracy, PASOK, RIVER, ANEL, Leventis voted the third memorandum massacring the people and now they call the people to consent to their slaughter. They even want the trade union movement to help them achieve profit growth, to pass the new measures without reaction, no protest movement nor obstacles. In other, words they want workers themselves to approve of the memoranda. The main thing is that they want to hide the truth, that there is no alternative perspective. This dirty role was played and is still being played by the forces that make up the government and employers’ controlled unions. They transferred the employers’ demands within the unions; they put the workers to support foreign interests, to adopt the theories of the capitalists. What we experienced intensely at the beginning of the manifestation of that crisis is the propaganda that the crisis was caused because of workers’ rights. Our struggles and our demands are to blame for factories closing. What they present is that the crisis is not due to capitalism and that with different management things can change. Today they give time and space to the government, they put obstacles in the organization of the struggle, they cultivate defeatism and call in alignment and agreement with employers’ purposes. It is not only that GSEE took part in social dialogue by signing common findings and common statements with SEV (Federation of Greek Industries) and the government. In large unions in strategic areas where such forces dominate: OME-OTE, GENOP – PPC OTOE (* Workers Federation State Greek Telecommunications, Electricity Company, and Banks), etc., their announcements do not differentiate not even verbally from company announcements, most of the time they speak for themselves.
Today we cannot underestimate the influence of the attack demanding consent and allegiance after so many years of recession. Fatigue and suffering that accumulate in every home along with the decline of the movement and the disappointment of many workers because of the false hopes SYRIZA. The position that without rupture and conflict with the monopolies, but with a governmental alternation there could be positive change. The theory of realism, patience and sacrifices uncomplainingly in order for growth to come so that workers benefit from it cannot be underestimated because it starts in every workplace from every employer that says “help me so that I don’t have to fire you, so that the company goes well and i don’t have to cut salaries, or shut down the company due to our competitors“ etc. The effect of this call for consensus is already evident in low participation in the struggle, strikes, demonstrations, as well as in political choices.
Development For The Few – Poverty, Unemployment For The People
We have to show people what their development, their growth really means. There is the experience of the previous decade with high capitalist growth that gave birth to the capitalist crisis, and then the respective “national goals” for which they called the people to make sacrifices and national consensus: accession to the Eurozone, the Olympic Games. How were workers paid for their sacrifices for the achievement of national objectives of the plutocracy? We all know how. We have many examples of what development means. In recent years during the crisis and because of developments across Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa the tourist industry breaks one record after another every year having reached unimaginable levels of tourist arrivals of more than 25 million. The airlines, big hotel owners, the tour operators and other capitalists in the industry have made a fortune. Employees work like contemporary slaves, without days off or schedules, with starvation wages of 200 and 300euros , thousands young people with forms of practice and apprenticeship are paid by the hour, uninsured, undeclared work, without the right to get the unemployment fund. These are the conditions that prevail. The same is happening in national roads and construction work which got ahead again. Builders working all day with the half wages, often unpaid for months, days of insurance are stolen and accidents are common. The same is true for the food sector, the poultry, aquaculture, rural capitalist enterprises in strawberry fields. Their development does not involve humane living conditions with dignity for us, we do not have any benefit from it.
The debate on the notorious debt adjustment is not made for workers’, popular rights. It aims to ensure that business groups will get money from the state coffers, which comes from our unpaid work, taxes, xaratsia, cuts in social benefits, in everything we are entitled. The debt is created by capitalists, by the subsidies they received, their tax evasions, the Olympics, the NATO equipment that is continuing, their massive loans. The debt is not created by the people, no worker should be carried away and consent to the slaughter of his rights expecting a positive outcome from the negotiations of plutocrats.
The Curse Of Employers – Government Controlled Trade Unionism
The debate preceding the general assemblies and boards of trade unions highlighted many problems with the new situation that has developed in workers’ lives, thinking about where things and the movement itself are going. The degree of working class organization is very low. The majority of young people, immigrants, women, work under the worst conditions possible, constantly changing jobs, and being unemployed for large periods of time. They do not participate in unions having a bad opinion about them. Active participation in trade unions is also in a bad situation
The damage of government employers’ trade unionism, the forces of the social democrats, liberals and opportunists in the unions, and their transformations is great. The wound they have caused to the body of the trade union movement is deep, it cannot be closed easily. Their prevalence in strategic areas in the big unions of industry, energy, telecommunications, ports, transport, formerstate enterprises, is a major obstacle to the unity of workers and the class orientation of the struggle. They still refuse to enroll in their unions thousands contractors, workers with fixed term contracts, underpaid workers of outsourcing/slave-trade offices that work in the same factory, office, area.
The keep the new shift of workers unorganized. The difficulties we encountered in organizing workers are many. All these years the forces of employers’ controlled unions formed common fronts, they all hold an attitude against PAME in large federations and unions where they can see that steps are made to change correlations. They maintain correlations, by formatting mechanisms together with the employers and the state. This recently became obvious with the most notable example of the largest labor center of the country, the Labour Centre of Athens where they appointed their own administration through the Justice Dept, eliminating the elected one and the decisions of the Unions Congress. All these are accompanied by phenomena of corruption, squandering millions of funds and programs such as the Labour Centre of Lamia, Chania and elsewhere, and redemption. Correlations in GSEE ADEDY unions, their strategy and their work resulted in the depreciation of trade unions in workers’ consciences.
For the entire period in the crisis they have not hesitated to adopt even the slogan “no political parties, no trade unions in the struggle” which they threw together with bourgeois forces and was finally adopted by SYRIZA and its components, the forces of ANTARSYA, other opportunist forces, the fascists of Golden Dawn in the actions of the “indignants” that tried to trap popular indignation and protest, to promote Nazism and brought another blow to the importance of participation and struggle within the trade unions and the struggle in the factories, in the workplaces where employers and exploitation thrive. They promoted the theory of struggle, outside workplaces which supposedly attracts workers who are afraid of losing their jobs.
The transformation of their strategy was huge. At the beginning of the crisis they openly prevented strikes claiming, that “strikes in the crisis are madness”. Then they changed their tactics and called for strikes without a plan, unprepared and scattered ones, with a subordination context, thus undermining escalation and disappointment. They aimed to defuse moods. Recently, during the meeting for the new trade union legislation, GSEE reproduced the same things and went even further: to adapt trade unions to the new conditions, namely compromise and obedience, for the futility of strikes at a national level, for new social partnershipat European level.
We all understand how much worse the situation would be today without PAME. It was this very need to rid trade unions controlled by the employers that gave birth to PAME. The unions participating in the class front fought hard battles and became a shining example. As the unions of Employees in Local Administration OTA, that accepted thousands of outsourcing and fixed term contract workers as members. They gave them the right to speak at general assemblies and the right to decide on the administrations of union. The government employers’ controlled Federation, eliminated 18 trade unions out of OTA because they refused to erase from their members, workers who worked through outsourcing.
The class trade union of Evangelismos Hospital, first in the health sector, united all workers by enrolling contractors in the trade union, hundreds of fiercely exploited cleaning ladies and services workers and organizing common struggle of doctors, nurses and patients. Similarly, sectoral unions of energy, metal, telecommunications, and finance are rallied inPAME.
The Results Of Our Work In The Organization Of Workers, The Unemployed, Women And Immigrants In Changing Correlations
Colleagues, despite our efforts and action with self-sacrifice, we cannot be fully satisfied. The key issue for the restructuring and regeneration of the labor union movement and the basic criterion of our work is the level of organization of the working class in factories, workplaces, in strategic sectors where it is low or entrapped in reformist illusions, it is the renewal of trade unions with the entry of new workers, women, migrants who work in the most diverse industrial relations, they are often unpaid and uninsured, underpaid, unemployed and face job wandering.
Without changes in the organization level , neither changing correlations nor restructuring of the movement can ever exist. The historically low level of organization of the working class that existed, was a big problem during the crisis. It is a big if not the biggest problem. In the food supply tourism, wholesale and retail, in large industrial units where a large number of workers work in poor conditions, the vast majority are not aware of any union or participation in union activities. These working and living conditions no longer affect a small part of workers, nor is a temporary phenomenon. Soon these working conditions will dominate.
Unemployment will remain at these high levels, even if there is recovery . This is experience we have from developments in other countries such as Spain, Portugal across the EU where the unemployed have exceeded 16 million and part-time flexible work has increased considerably. Federations, trade centers, unions established in PAME literally have to change their attitude towards this issue. We must intensify our efforts in order for the unions to acquire mass characteristics, to create new sectoral unions, forms of participation in committees for the unemployed, hangouts, clubs of trade unions in neighborhoods.
Steps are made, there are more possibilities. Decisively improving the functioning of unions, dealing with all matters relating to young people and the working family, opening a front in guild type organization and entrapment in the issues which are continuously reproduced by the onslaught of employers in every workplace. For example, even the known, established campaigns in trade unions with enlightening work, propaganda of union positions, etc. have languished or have been abandoned even by unions participating in PAME.
The previous years, new sectoral trade unions were created, particularly in sectors where the forces of PAME are the minority and reformism dominates along with the logic of social partnership, the forces that are majority in tertiary unions. We are concerned about the help we gave to tackle powerful obstacles in their massification , to make planned steps so that the new trade unions become known. Some of them do not have many members, they don’t have bond with workers.
We have gained great experience from the intervention organized to deal with acute problems generated by the crisis and the employers’ offensive in some sectors mainly in sectoral trade unions that rally in PAME. For example, the joint action, planning, with a fighting plan by the sectoral Food syndicate – Tourism of Athens with almost all business company based unions of Attica, the Union Metal Attica which pioneered in previous years in setting up the Coordinating Committee of Metal and Shipbuilding Industry, the union of lithography in joint action and the struggles with company based unions in the press and the media. There are many such examples.
This way of working has paved the way for new ways of communication, katoxurwsi and coordination. It’s a useful experience to be generalized to all sectors, in the direction of change of the correlation of forces, in order for the struggle of workers in every sector, business group to be unified.
The Organization Of Working, Unemployed Women
We cannot talk about restructuring the labor movement, changing the correlation of forces, without the participation of women in trade unions, in the organization of the struggle.
Based on this year’s World Bank data, 76% of those working part time in the eurozone are women. As much as they strive to hide the racial and class discrimination using majestic words, the 2015 data show the opposite. Women earned 15% lower wages than men and lower pensions by 35%.
The reason is that a much greater number of women are unskilled and work part-time, which means partial/meager salary, partial stamp, partial life. Furthermore, they are left out of production for long periods of time , their sole responsibility being taking care of children and the elderly.
Generally, female work is used to further exacerbate labor relations, salaries, wages, so that exploitation of working class as a whole is increased. Motherhood is exploited used in a reactive way.
Apart from their work, women also have the responsibility of the household, motherhood and the family. While women dynamically participate in the struggles during the upsurge of the movement, they are the first to make steps back during recession periods, when they face personal or financial difficulties. A striking example of this is that for every 6 male workers who vote in their company based unions there is one woman employee involved.
Trade unions should take measures to ensure women’s organization and participation in collective activities and initiatives. Practical measures must be taken. We must stimulate the action of the unions organizing events for women and diverse events for families, children, celebrations and so on. We must strengthen the assertive framework of trade unions with requests for young working women, older women who are out of production and maternity issues. More female cadres must be elected in trade unions with support in order to prevent easy resignation when the first difficulties arise.
A crucial issue that must be the center of our discussion is the orientation of the trade unions in young people. Where they work, with what labor relations , specific issues that may concern them. In several sectors important steps have been made in organizing new workers under new labor relations, employment programs eg on OTA, the food supply with the voucher and employment programs. Similarly, in sectors where young people are heavily concentrated there are positive interventions which becomes apparent with new entries, massification of trade unions eg in telecommunications.
More specifically, we should be more concerned about the orientation in technical schools, training and apprenticeship schools where our work is too weak. The area of training has been delivered to the “appetites” of the capital and it is deeply embedded in the way of market movement based on profitability. This means that the character of “study” is determined by the prospects of profits the capital expects to have.
The main thing is that in these schools, the technical education provided constitutes temporary knowledge which means that the student will have to brush up on it in the future. This whole process is based partly on the pursuit of the capital for the creation of cheap and flexible workforce and on the consciousness of the future employee, creating conditions of subordination to employers and acceptance of the worst working conditions. The content of the curriculum is characterized by an extremely limited knowledge horizon. There is a variety of specialties, fragmented professions which basically render young people unable to have full knowledge .Instead, narrowing of cognitive horizons dominates.
The development of action and orientation in vocational training schools is not currently a point of action but rather a perspective work. They are supposed to strengthen trade unions.
We should take into account that even in the crisis workers / unemployed ratio in vocational schools has not changed. According to data in training / apprenticeship it seems that 60% of young people who go to vocational schools are employed as opposed to 40% who are unemployed. The environment of labor relations, wages and rights provided by contracts or apprenticeship contracts is much more adverse than the awful situation that has been legislated (511 euro and separation based on age).
it is the duty of trade unions to direct their action in training / apprenticeship places. We must be “educated” to learn the peculiarities of these schools and the field itself, in every trade union Board there should be people in charge of these schools and specialties of the sector. Our propaganda for these fields must increase with documents-posters.
We set trade unions with massive, active participation, “embedded” in the workplace
A class trade union that participates in PAME is a pioneering one and it constantly organizes workers with a view to organizing all workers. It wants to ensure their participation in the life of the trade unions, to cultivate and to raise the level of class attitude. It firmly promotes solidarity, constantly cares for the unity of workers against business groups, governments and their people who oppress us and constantly divide the working class, either with selective benefits or with the threat of redundancy, different labor relations, ethnicity. It is a pioneer in the struggle for collective contacts, social security, health and insurance in the workplace and in the struggle for medical care of the people, the education of children, the survival of the unemployed, the common struggle with the youth who are in apprenticeships and vocational schools, in internships.
It defends people’s accommodation against the auctions, there are actions for the entire life of the popular family. It develops joint action with people’s committees in every neighborhood , with the self-employed, freelance scientists, with farmers in villages, with women of popular families and young people who study in universities as well as with immigrant refugees. Their action and alliance begin from the fight for survival, the support of children of popular families and leads to gathering forces, fostering unity against the monopolies that oppress us and define things in all sectors and our lives in general.
A class trade union that consistently participates in PAME organizes mass collective processes where employees express their opinion, contribute to decisions, choose the forms of struggle, find ways to encourage the active and democratic participation of all members so that they will be able to understand the causes their problems and recognize the real opponent based on their own experience in the class struggle . To feel that they are part of a large effort in defense of life, the rise of struggles and claiming rights, and that they contribute to finding a solution rather than delegate others to find one. Each trade union has an action plan that is constantly enriched .We take into account the changes that have taken place in search of ways and not yielding to difficulties such as abolishment of the 8-hour working day and Sunday holiday, the intense paces of life and the increase of all family and social problems in the crisis that discourage workers from collective action. The overthrowing will not be made by those who have solved their problems, but by the poor and the oppressed , those who produce the wealth and are robbed of it at the same time.
The Board of trade unions rallied in PAME want to be a living example of what restructuring of the labor movement on the unions means regarding the function of trade unions and the actions they develop .In these completely new conditions we must implement the legacy the previous generation of class-conscious trade unionists left. “the trade union must be workers’ second home.” With the action, the orientation and strength of the example of the trade union that is rallied in PAME more workers, honest unionists will be able to overcome prejudices, barriers and fight a joint battle to change the correlations in strategic areas and sectors, to rid our organizations which are under employer and government control, of the forces that have been oppressing workers for a long time and throughout the crisis they have proved to be a valuable ally of SEV and governments so that they can bring memoranda and anti-labor laws.
The change of correlations goes through the multiform action of Federations, LabourCentres and trade unions rallied in PAME and is developed on all fronts by organizing struggles to cover the losses and claim their contemporary needs even the organization of People’s Tutoring, organizing solidarity by collecting and distributing food to poor families, the militant lawyers who stand on the side of the struggling workers and other people from popular strata, with initiatives to reconnect the electricity in traditional houses, with events for children, even with camps for workers’ children some of which were organized in Arta, Agrinio, Ioannina, with genuine solidarity towards refugees.
Changing attitudes means that such activity and function are not just some examples for us, but it is what we want to determine the trade unions of PAME, as well as make them stand out and respond with actions, not with words to the question: why should employees be organized in trade unions?
Are there any trade unions that are underperforming? that act only in election periods, that remain massless, without action for a long time, without contact with workers? Are there trade unions that are not “embedded” in factories and companies in the sector? Yes, there are .Building a workers, trade union overthrowing movement means that we change our attitude, we combat such phenomena. This means we agree to work with the class line of PAME. PAME is the trade unions, the federations, the Labor Centers rallied in it. We should draw more significant conclusions on how we work.
The living process that preceded the Conference with general assemblies, meetings and gatherings revealed new forces that are not prepared to capitulate, and they are together with us today. We do not want this procedure to be considered of minor importance, but we want to continue planning massive procedures, organized discussions on the condition of the movement, the responsibilities of employers’ controlled unions and the role of PAME which will enable more people to express themselves, and take joint action. We will continue this discussion in more trade unions and workplaces. We are confident that new forces will take the decision to participate in PAME.
Report on Executive Secretariat
The Executive Secretariat of PAME through constant and frequent meetings, organized and coordinated the work for the organization of the struggles developed, the broadening of the lines of PAME with new trade unions, the struggle with employers, governments, employer and government syndicalism.
In previous years, it went on to create committees and work groups to contribute to the specialization of work in various fighting fronts. Thus, next to the Executive Secretariat were created Women’s Secretariat, Youth Secretariat, Secretariat of immigrants, international secretariat, hygiene and safety secretariat, groups in culture, sports, media, group for the organization of solidarity. Despite the weaknesses that existed in their constitution, despite the constant changes in their composition, the total result of their work is considered positive. The new nationwide coordinating Committee to be elected should contribute to their setting up and staffing with greater determination and courage.
With dozens of initiatives, committees helped trade unions to develop action on every front and aspect of social life and activity, because “the action of the union is not confined to the workplace, as workers ’lives do not end in their workplace”. Theater group, dance group and choir were formed and several theater performances were staged. Similar initiatives were taken by the Secretariat in sport with races, with workers’ football tournament with teams from dozens of trade unions and workplaces. Also we held events, meetings aiming to inform trade unions about insurance, Collective Contracts, Health and safety, accidents at work, the fight against all drugs with therapeutic communities.
PAME took important initiatives to inform people, gave the opportunity to dozens of trade unions to make their action known, to discuss developments in every sector, creating web radio, with labor news. It made a team for the operation of the website for the ongoing and lively update in big strike battles against disinformation by the media of plutocrats. It organized schools to immigrants, spurred people’s committees and unions in developing relevant initiatives with free lessons and People’s institutions.
PAME took dozens solidarity initiatives to support workers who were on strike, refugees, and immigrants. In previous years we decided to establish Secretariats of PAME in sectors where federations are controlled by the forces of reformism, social partnership and ergatopaterismou. We set up sectoral secretariats. Similarly, local secretariats were set up as well. Our decision reinforced our action. The study of the functioning of secretariats has resulted in key conclusions:
The sectoral secretariat of PAME is the expression of trade unions unions, struggle committees participating in PAME, otherwise it is indistinguishable from faction. It coordinates their action, consolidates the line of struggle, makes a plan and framework for the sector, acts in the direction t of changing the correlations in the federation, tries to organize workers in order for PAME to expand with new trade unions, that is, most workers organize and honest trade unionist are released from the forces of subjugation and compromise. In this way PAME and the class line in every sector are strengthened. PAME is the trade unions, these are its base, PAME is not outside and above them. The same is true for the sectoral secretariat of PAME.
The Secretariat aims to facilitate the action of the unions, to strengthen their functioning, to assist with the overall experience and knowledge of the action of the monopoly, taking into account issues by sector, the struggle objectives, the organization of solidarity, the practical assistance in every place.
There are some cases where the pressure of the developments, the urgent need for a response to the attack against the workers led to the substitution and the overtaking of the unions. The need to show the class line and position of PAME to the workers at crucial moments, became a way of work and as a result, only the announcements of the secretariats of PAME were published, many times only the core material was reproduced and not the positions of the unions, their role and their function, their responsibility were becoming weaker. The same happened with the regional secretariats.
The regional secretariat must also be composed of unions participating in PAME, of struggle committees. In areas where there is Labour centre rallied with PAME, it is in charge of expressing PME and responsible for the region as respectively is the Federation for the sector. The good coordination with the federations and the sectoral secretariats can cover the unions and the struggle committees that are not in its forces, eg public sector. So, there is no reason to have a secretariat of PAME in an area where there is a Labour Centre of PAME.
Based on the conclusions and observations of the discussion that follows we propose to empower the new Secretariat to elaborate a comprehensive plan of organizational arrangement and coordination of the organizations that make up the class front.
The economics of the unions
The working class, in order to respond to the all-out and continuous attack it receives, it must strengthen its own weapons. Its unions and its movement. The strengthening of PAME, financially too, will strengthen the class struggle, will give a new push to the unions.
The donor of PAME and of its diverse activity is only the working class, the membership dues of the unions participating in PAME. Interventions, rallies, demonstrations, strikes, sports-cultural activities, solidarity actions, publishing and internationalist activity of PAME, propaganda (posters, banners, web radio, etc.) supported by the contribution of trade unions, federations, labour centres, struggle committees in workplaces, in popular neighbourhoods. Every year we conduct a fundraising campaign.
For a complete picture of the financial data to all delegates: the recent economic campaign undertaken in May-June reached …Euros, revealing to all of us the difficulty to meet basic operational needs and requirements that are multiplying continuously.
The difficulties that arise must be addressed immediately. The government intervention will make the situation even harder, therefore the financial situation of the sector, the union must be better organized and we must improve the financial support of PAME in order to correspond to the modern needs. The economic and stable aid requires better bonds, militant interventions, permanent and stable action, improvement of the functioning of the unions.
The stable contribution of the membership dues must be achieved with help and control in the following period. The person in charge of the sector must be aware of the situation of each union, the economic work and the order in economics must be a priority, eg it is unacceptable, from an ethical point of view, too, to have up until now the coupons of the fundraising campaign in the unions’ offices. This is for us, first of, the respect for the great effort that workers make to gather from what they have the bare necessities for our action. The Board of the unions have the responsibility to overcome any shortcomings and difficulties.
The importance of the Social Alliance
It is a great experience the joint rallies with the farmers and the self-employed scientists that we experienced in the struggle to defend the social security and not to pass the guillotine-law.
We saw in practice the power of the social alliance and its importance that forced the government and creditors to manoeuvres, to delays and gradual applications, to retreats to gain time. The unions rallied in PAME in practice through their participation in the common struggle, they gained the appreciation of farmers, and even of the sceptic wage-earners of the countryside that had many prejudices caused by the long propaganda of their bosses and their representatives.
Since 2010 we have began efforts of common action, based on a common framework of struggle. It helped us to get to know the specific problems of the workers who are not salaried, the sufferings from the policy and the domination of monopolies. These developments oblige us to continue, taking into account the lessons of the militant experience and the changes that have taken place.
We estimate that the organizational form of the Peoples’ Committees has helped the class movement throughout these years. It planted the seed of the Social Alliance, of the common action of workers, self-employed, it offered the experience of common struggles in the neighbourhood supporting the strikers, against the attack of the employers, the Health, the Education, the defence of the poor popular families, it offered experience for the organization of solidarity.
We found out that the function of the union is reflected in the positive effect or respectively in the difficulties with the work of the Peoples’ Committees. That means that the non occupation of the unions with solidarity and support issues of their members, of the workers made redundant, the unemployed of the sector is a big problem. Labour Solidarity is primarily the responsibility of the unions, of the workers’ organizations. Thanks to this solidarity the struggles we have experienced over these past years lasted for many days or months.
The importance of the strengthening of PAME in the strategic sectors of the economy. The Congress as the starting point in the struggle to change the correlation of forces.
Today’s conference is a new starting point in the struggle to change the correlations particularly in strategic sectors, in industry, energy, telecommunications, transport, ports and banks. Our goal is that more unions from these sectors join PAME, to defeat the forces of employers in the most of them. The defeat of the forces of compromise in these sectors, even a little one in a workplace, it will be a great victory for PAME and for the issue of the reconstruction of the labour movement. In these places resides the government employers’ syndicalism, here it retains the strong forces with the support of the governments and the EU, from here it forms the correlations, its majorities in secondary and tertiary institutions, with the open intimidation by the employers who, in the elections, have the workers vote the ballot paper that the chief of staff gives them. It is dominant the line of social partnership, the integration with the theories and practices of corporate responsibility, with the differentiated policy of wages and benefits. Dominating in these sectors, it puts major obstacles to the development and generalization of the struggle in critical moments, of the effectiveness of the struggles. Let’s just think about, would the government and the employers encounter the same difficulties, would it be so easy to let the attack on our rights pass if there was a universal participation of these sectors in general strike? For example, with the universal participation of DEI (Public Electricity), OTE(Hellenic Telecommunication Organisation), EYDAP(Athens Water Supply and Sewerage Company), Petroleum, banks, transport would the result of the struggle be the same? During the crisis they had, with few exceptions, the lowest rates of participation in strikes and demonstrations. This is the role of these trade union forces in these areas, openly treacherous against the overall interests of the workers. Openly disruptive to the unity of the working class. It is a major obstacle for the fight, a valuable force for the capital.
The same forces in the public sector and ADEDY itself (member of ETUC) had differentiated tactics but with the same goal of integration and serving the implemented policy. They even made the unions the vehicle for government alternation, for the transformation of the political scene, the change of the body of the social democrats from PASOK to SYRIZA and its rise in the governance of the same power of the monopolies in the EU and NATO. They had long-lasting strikes, registered and were paid the wages devaluing the forms of struggle with unprecedented opportunism. They played a key role in trapping and deceiving the people in the lies of SYRIZA. With planning by sector, persistent action we can cause serious damage in the domination of these forces in these workplaces. PAME is highly respected by thousands of workers of these. Besides, today all the workers experience the consequences of the brutal anti-labour policy from which nobody is excluded, in every house nestles daily the worry for the unemployed youngsters, even though there is a somewhat steady income.
We claim the life we deserve. No compromise with the poverty, the miserable life.
We discuss the framework of struggle of PAME and we want it to be the criteria of the organization and the struggle of the workers, as we have been doing since our establishment. We have never underestimated, of course, any request for even a partial relief, the interception of the full-on attack. The workers are well aware of this. But not for a moment did we compromise with the logic of the plausible in terms of competitiveness and business profitability. The logic of the continuing recession leads nowhere, “to save what we can,” let alone the hostile perception systematically cultivated by the employers, that the workers could ensure their rights if they are aligned behind the one or the other business plan. Therefore today we set a new element, which is the combination of defence with the attack in our struggle. Each Federation, Labour Centre, union participating in PAME has its own responsibility to process the objectives, the demands. It takes into account the circumstances and the developments in each area, the degree of organization and the workers attitude, in order to unify the class direction and to strengthen by sector and large workplaces. Criteria is our interests, not the profits of the bosses, but based on our own needs and interests. We reject from this point of view the development that they are planning. We spread, with goals of struggle and demands, the issue of the modern needs of the working class, the way we deserve to live and work today on the basis of the development of science and the means of production. Today there are all the possibilities for stable work with rights, reduction of the working time, universal social security, high level of free health care, welfare, protection of the health and safety in workplaces. Can we compromise with the widespread unemployment, the starvation-wages and the flexible working conditions, the sharing of an underpaid job in two and three employees? Criteria for our demands are the modern working people’s needs and the ability of our time to implement them. We highlight the causes that block the social progress, that are obstacles in the social development which is the domination of the monopoly groups, the pursuit of profit, the capitalists, their imperialist unions and their parties. The life itself, the rich experience, especially of the last few years, proves that in the EU, in the power of the monopolies there can’t be a solution in favour of the people. The EU’s role as a predatory alliance and oppressor of the working class, of the peoples is becoming more and more obvious. The myths that this is supposedly the “union of solidarity and a sheltered harbour for the peoples”, as the plutocracy and its supporters claimed, are being rejected.
The EU becomes more reactive and the workers will experience extreme poverty and misery if they do not rise up. It becomes more and more understood that there cannot be any prospect without rupture and confrontation with these forces. The solution lies in overthrowing them. That is why one of the elements that distinguish us from the union forces of class collaboration is the rallying and unity of the working class independently of sectors against the monopolies, the capitalist exploitation for their overthrow. This struggle has its difficulties and requires very specific plan of action and struggle by sector and nationwide.
Today, there are all the conditions of production, scientific and technological, for development in favour of the people, to have a dignified life, work with rights. We are the ones who produce all the wealth! Our sweat, our labour is for the benefit of a handful of monopoly groups. This can change.
Therefore, the struggle to cover the losses for a dignified life must be combined with the struggle for another way of development, with the working class and the people in power.
We can claim the life we deserve, a better future for us and our children. The slogan that was born within the great struggles shows us the way:
“Without you no cog turns, worker, you can without bosses.”
But such a struggle requires massive and strong unions, organized in the factories, in the large workplaces, constant fronts of struggle, solidarity and alliance with the poor farmers and the self-employed. Here is the core for the reconstruction and the revitalization of the trade union movement.
The Executive Secretariat of PAME