THE NATIONAL CONGRESS MEETING OF PAME – A GREAT EVENT FOR THE WORKING CLASS OF OUR COUNTRY
The Executive Secretariat of PAME welcomes the more than… trade unionists who are today here, in the working city of Piraeus, from every corner of the country. Trade unionists representing… National Federations, Regional Trade Union Centers, base unions of the public and private sector, committees of struggle in the workplace. Especially the dozens of trade unionists who are here for the first time, bringing their experience, their own opinion, their anxiety for the future of the working class and their children. They are concerned about the dire situation in which the trade union movement remains, far behind the needs that exist to confront the anti-workers’ policy of governments and business groups, and they want to change it.
We are pleased to welcome the delegations from the World Federation of Trade Unions and from the… unions from… countries of Europe, the Middle East and beyond. Their presence here emphasizes the need to further strengthen the coordination, joint action and international solidarity of those who fight against capitalist exploitation and the imperialist organizations that bloodshed peoples.
We welcome our allies in the struggle, the farmers from the National Committee of Farmers’ Blocs, the Federation of Self-employed of Athens, the Federation of Greek Women, the StudentsMilitant Front, the students who moved us, achieving a great change of the correlation in the universities.
The massive participation of employees in the preparation that preceded the National Meeting, the hundreds of workplace tours, the general assemblies, the gatherings, the meetings, the great interest shown by tens of thousands of employees of our country discussing with the CALL OF PAME, but mainly the large participation of trade unions and trade unionists in the National Meeting, confirm that it was a right initiative, which can contribute to the development of the class struggle, to the reconstruction of the Workers trade union movement.
The National Congress Meeting of PAME is a great event for the working class of our country. The debate has opened wider within the workers about how the workers’ movement and under what conditions it can move forward on the counterattack. How can it confront the anti-peoples’, anti-workers’ policies of governments and employers, how it can attract the huge mass of unorganized workers, especially young people, how to measure new important steps in mass organization in the unions, strengthen class unity and fight against capitalism?
More people are talking today about the issue of the reconstruction of the workers’ union movement with different goals and starting points.
The attack we suffered during the pandemic, but also earlier, throughout the capitalist crisis, shook consolidated perceptions of large sections of workers, challenged data that existed in the attitude and action of trade unions and trade unionists. “Saviors” were tried, governments changed, expectations were shuddered. The line of “social partnership” and “class collaboration” that dominate the workers’ movement, under the responsibility of the leaderships of GSEE and ADEDY (members of ETUC in Greece), led to greater losses for workers, they legitimized and accepted the savage anti-workers’ policy.
For the last 12 years the working class has paid with great sacrifices both the effort to get capitalism out of its crisis and the subsequent phase of temporary capitalist development, in which the workers not only did not take back the losses of the previous period, but we saw new anti-workers’ measures to blacken our life. In the most acute way, the great contrasts of capitalist barbarism came to the surface, which proved to be incapable of meeting even the most basic needs of the people. Thus in Greecewe have reached 30,000 deaths from the pandemic, the privatization of critical sectors for the life of the people, such as healthcare and energy, the rapid reduction of wages, the gigantic nature of taxation and poverty, the huge rates of unemployment and part-time work.
The icing on the cake of these twelve years was the intensification of authoritarianism and intimidations in the workplace and against the trade union rights of workers from a series of anti-workers’ laws imposed by all the bourgeoispolitical parties, ND, SYRIZA, PASOK, culminating in the brutal labor law of Hatzidakis, which seeks to block the action of the unions.
In these difficult circumstances, PAME raised the flag of the class struggle for the defense of workers’ and people’s interests. PAME came to the forefront of the organization of the struggles and consistently supported the militant mobilizations of the unions.
PAME opened critical frontsto protect the health, the rights and the lives of workers. PAME cultivated militant disobedience in the anti-workers’ laws, authoritarianism and repression. It did not fold under the weight of negative correlation. The trade unions and unions that rally in PAME played a decisive role in organizing important struggles in big workplaces, such as COSCO, LARCO, E-FOOD, public hospitals, education. They organized, without any hesitation, solidarity with whoever was fighting, as in KAVALA OIL and Fertilizers of Kavala, in the couriers-delivery workers, everywhere.
We met with dozens of unions and trade unionists on large fronts of struggle, in sectoral or local struggles, in general strikes that were most often organized without the participation of the GSEE leadership. Struggles were organized that achieved smaller or larger victories. Collectivity and solidarity grew, new forces entered the battle.
The van guard and unwavering action of the unions and trade unionists that unite in PAME is based on the fact that we did not retreat, we did not compromise behind closed doors. We did not seek to make the trade union movement a stepping stone for anti-popular anti-workers’ governments to rise and fall, nor did we choose between tyrant-oppressor. We do not separate the capitalist employers into good and bad, nor consequently their unions and alliances into good and bad imperialists. We consistently defended the class struggle and class interests.
PAME gave this battle in the workers’ union movement, in the effort to organize struggles, in conferences and assemblies of trade unions, against the rotten situation cultivated by the forces of employers’ and government controlled trade unions in the union movement. Such were the battles fought at the last GSEE congress and at Congressed of Federations and Regional Trade Union Centers.
All of the above strengthened the debate and the discussion, strengthened the question on how the movement will go on the counterattack. The number of trade unions that started from a different union starting point is significant and today they are concerned, they are among us, they are participating in the works of our Meeting. This fruitful reflection can and must be reflected in the work of the National Congress Meeting, to illuminate what is concentrated in the slogan of the Meeting “In Organization Our Power, Hope Lies In The Struggles, Our Weapon Is Solidarity”, in order to strengthen the struggle of the working class against poverty and wars, against exploitation and capitalist barbarity.
WE CAN FIGHT AGAINST THE NEW ATTACK ON THE RIGHTS OF THE WORKING CLASS AND COME OUT VICTORIOUS
We have great battles ahead of us. The blackmailing dilemmas and the attempt to manipulate the workers will return in a new form and we reject what is said, that it is modern and realistic to compromise with living with crumbs, measure our lives drop by drop. We are facing other anti-workers’ reforms that follow one another, with the aim of reducing labor rights, but also the employer and government intervention that seeks for us to accept the barbarity of the imperialist war as a “fight for democracy.”
Already the big international financial Institutions, the EU and various bourgeois servants predict that we will sooner or later enter a new phase of recession of the capitalist economy, a new capitalist crisis.
The imperialist war, like the pandemic of the past two years, contributes as a catalyst to express even more aggressively and sharply the contradictions and impasses of capitalist production itself, the sharpening of the relation between capital-labor relation, the intensity of exploitation.
Workers in Greece and the rest of the world will face a new wave of anti-workers measures, which will further aggravate our lives, will require new heavy sacrifices from the people, will seek to abolish rights, will intensify repression, ideological and political intimidation.
The modern dilemmas of business groups and the priorities of the capital strategy for “green growth” and “digital transition” are nothing but the modern conditions of slavery and exploitation of workers.
The “digital transformation” of the state is not neutral, but serves to shield and upgrade its functions in a more reactionary direction.
With the digital file they are enabling the collection and rapid processing of all personal data: medical, financial, legal, social contacts, preferences, habits and interests. The digital identity, although appearing as a “facilitation” step, is an attempt to accept the collection and disposal of personal data.
The exercise of control over trade union activity through the maintenance of electronic registers of unions in a state database, control of recruitments through electronic voting, enable the registration of the voter’s choice and at the same time the possibility of shaping the result. Opportunities that they plan to extend to national elections.
The abilities of monitoring and suppression with modern digital means are upgraded, with legal recording and processing of data of every aspect of the social life of the “Digital Citizens” in the “Smart Cities”: from how much energy is consumed and how many live in a house, up to the quantity and the kind of garbage of a house. From the monitoring and recording of vehicle traffic, to the venues, the number and the duration of the public gatherings.
The so-called “green transition” brought inflation and pushed the working class into “energy poverty” long before the start of the imperialist war, already last summer. The spike in energy prices is set to continue in the coming years.
The policy of de-lignification, Community commitments on the emissions trade and the promotion of imported gas as a key fuel for the transition has been “reverently” implemented by every government in the last twenty years.
SYRIZA and KINAL are complicit with ND for the “liberalization” of the electricity sector, according to EU guidelines. This includes the Energy Exchange, instituted by SYRIZA, a framework that is effectively implemented by the current ND government. During the four years of SYRIZA, the production of electricity from domestic lignite decreased by 50%. The current ND government gave the last shot, limiting lignite production to 10% of the total energy mix.
With the responsibility of all governments and parties ND – SYRIZA – KINAL we have reached 50% of the price we pay for oil, for fuel, to be state taxes that are then directed to support the Capital. “Green” special fees and “green” taxes were imposed, which with the system of guaranteed prices by the state ensure super profits for the RES business groups
Euro-NATO sanctions are being imposed on Russia, which are pushing up energy prices, killing workers and bringing profits to the “allied” monopolies of the American LNG and to Greek shipowners. This is despite the fact that both the US and the EU state that when liquefied, liquefied LNG increases the release of methane into the atmosphere, which has a multiple negative effect compared to CO2 on the issue of “global warming”. The negative environmental footprint of LNG is not limited to methane, it concerns pollution of the marine environment and fisheries who suffer great with. It increases the risk of a large-scale accident from the proximity of LNG facilities to forest areas or urban areas.
In the face of the onslaught of energy poverty and even higher price increases for all products, the workers movement is fighting against energy liberalization, state taxation of indirect taxes on fuel, EU commitments that turn cheap domestic lignite “Expensive” fuel through trade in pollutants, against EU and NATO sanctions against Russia to substituting gas for the highly expensive US LNG.
At the same time that they are promoting the “green transition” with a wealth of state and EU funds, the step up the effort to reduce the huge issue of protecting public health and the environment only to the issue of CO2 emissions and the debatable theory of the “climate crisis”.
Civil protection, anti-earthquake shielding, fire protection, flood protection are much more immediate and urgent for the protection of workers’ lives and health. A year after the catastrophic fires, the necessary steps have not been taken to secure the infrastructure, except for those related to “green” investments, such as in Evia. The recent sad events in Voula area are to be expected, as today 4,000 job positions of permanent firefighters remain vacant, the average age of the existing forces exceeds 45 years and only 0.04% of the state budget is allocated for the protection of forest ecosystems!
Large-scale Industrial Accidents have not yet occurred in industrial zones by luck alone, as the causes remain: the unregulated location of industries (refineries, chemical plants, warehouses, hazardous waste treatment), the proximity of industrial and residential areas. The health and safety conditions in the large units, the absence of escape routes and any evacuation plan for the tens of thousands of workers and residents of the areas, the absence of staffed firefighting services and dealing with other emergencies, understaffed Health Centers and hospitals.
As with fires and floods, so with industrial “accidents” only the people can save the people, fighting through the unions and other actors of the movement for effective measures to protect their health and life. Against the anti-worker, anti-popular laws that crush us at work, degrade the environment, undermine our quality of life. To shield the civil protection by prioritizing the necessary infrastructure, projects and measures for the organization and coordination of the relevant services.
The notorious Recovery Fund is becoming the financial tool to intensify the attack on our rights, at the same time that business groups will make new wealth. To abolish fixed daily work-hours and collective bargaining agreements. To expand flexible forms of employment, part-time work and half-life. To make more foreclosures and auctions of peoples homes by the banks. This is what the EU and all the bourgeois parties call “development”.
But from this “growth” the workers have nothing to gain. Workers in many industries are well aware of this, such as those in tourism, where they seerecord numbers of millions of tourists but they themselves work exhausting hours, are paid with crumbs and stay on slums next to 5-star hotels.
The maritime workers of the world’s number one fleet force (of the Greek ship owners) know this very well, the one that transports with the blessings of the EU and NATO both American and Russian oil. At the same time, maritime workersdo not have a collective agreement, and at any moment even their lives are in danger in the Black Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Pacific Ocean and elsewhere.
The workers in the commerce, in the supermarkets, experience it in their own skin, where in the conditions of the pandemic and the quarantine, the big business groups made unbelievable profits, at the same time that the commerce workers were exposed to the coronavirus, without health and safety measures, they lost their colleagues. from the pandemic and continued to work exhausting hours, from morning to night, for 400 and 500 euros.
We find these examples in every industry. Examples that confirm that the growth of their profits is based on the savage exploitation of workers, the abolition of rights and conquests.
Respectively, our people, like the peoples of other countries, are called upon to pay dearly for the imperialist wars.
To justify the new massacre and the involvement of our country in the imperialist war on the side of the EU and NATO, the government of ND utilizes all their miserable arguments. That the war is being waged against “revisionism” and “totalitarian regimes”, in defense of “democratic values and freedom”. With similar arguments, that is, that spread death in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
They hide the real causes of the imperialist war that is unfolding on Ukrainian territory, which is nothing more than competition for market share in the mineral wealth, energy, pipelines and freight networks, for geopolitical pillars and spheres of influence. These are in the target of the two camp of thieves for years, both the US, NATO, the EU on the one hand and Russia on the other which uses “anti-fascist” slogans and the line of “protection of the people of Donbass” to justify the unacceptable military invasion.
Workers and trade unions must not bet and support the choices of the government and other bourgeois parties in order for the shipowners, the industrialists, the bankers in Greece, who seek to upgrade their position, to gain greater shares in the international competition. This goal, which is concentrated in the “vision” of the geostrategic upgrade of the country, has been served and is served by all governments, ND, SYRIZA, PASOK all the previous years and today. For warplanes and frigates, for NATO they give many billions every year, while for the people they close hospitals and schools, cut salaries, pensions, unemployment benefits from the unemployed, the Fire Brigade is left without a proper fleet and means.
No one should believe the governments’ lies, that funds for NATO and turning the country into a vast American NATO aircraft carrier is for the country’s security. Proof is that the air in the sails of Turkish provocation is given first of all by NATO itself, NATO which does not recognize national borders and speaks of “NATO territory”, which turns the Aegean into gray area, which recognizes Turkish bourgeoisie as a key player in the region and strategic partner. That is why they promote the co-management scenarios of the Aegean and the energy resources, which will put us in new adventures. In this regard, the Turkish bourgeoisie is strengthening the bargain to say the “yes” to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO.
The interests of shipowners, industrialists, commerce giants, manufacturers are always called “national” and call on us to have not only tolerance for their dirty games, but also “national solidarity”.
The “national solidarity” that the bourgeois parties sometimes chant is a deadly trap for our people. War is the inevitable continuation of the competitions themselves, of the crises that fill the daily lives of this rotten and unjust system of exploitation. No trust in their governments and in the parties that serve these interests, in ND, SYRIZA and the other bourgeois political parties.
The struggle of the unions and the workers against the war and the solidarity with the refugees need to be strengthened decisively. To disengage our country from the war in whatever form it participates, either by sending military equipment, or by utilizing Greece as a base of war. No soldiers outside our borders. To cancel the Greek-American agreement and to close all the bases of death.
The right side of history has never been the alliances of wolves and the plans of the capitalists. These were paid with heavy price by the people, with our own blood. The right side of history is the one that walks with the rights of the many, with the rights of the peoples. The right side of history is the one that goes hand in hand with peace, social progress, with social popular prosperity, with the overthrow of the causes that give birth to war and exploitation, outside of any imperialist union, such as the EU and NATO.
In these circumstances, it is crucial that the trade union movement is not caught in the clutches of bourgeois governments and business groups. To defend the class struggle and the workers’-people’s interests, in joint action with the self-employed of the city and the poor peasants, who suffer from the policy of monopolies and imperialist unions.
We must oppose our own line of struggle through a large front of Federations, Regional Trade Union Centers and trade unions, a movement of overthrow for life and work with rights.
It is worth remembering PAME’s decision in 2016 to see not only who was right, but the correctness of the class criterion we must have: “The Greek bourgeoisie has proved many times in the past its aggression against other peoples, that it does not hesitate to take part in the bloodiest massacres, to involve our people in great adventures to claim shares from the prey of the imperialist wolves, to play a more active role on the geopolitical chessboard, to upgrade its position.”
We also warned: “Developments warn us of the danger of generalized conflicts and imperialist wars. …. This is the way of the bosses to get out of the crisis, to recover the capitalist economy: deeper exploitation of their peoples and bloody redistribution of borders, trade routes, energy, markets and spheres of influence, exploitation and of otherpeoples. This is what the capitalists and their parties, the governments baptize their national goals. We have seen the work before. We see this again in front of us live.”
Today we are more experienced! We need to be better prepared for the new attack that is unfolding, to strengthen the unions, to move on to the counterattack. Let our needs come to the fore.
PAME’S CONTRIBUTION AND THE STRUGGLES DEVELOPED IN THE LAST YEARS ARE VALUABLE LEGACY FOR THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT TO USE FOR ITS COUNTERATTACK
The foundation and action of PAME proved to be crucial. It has become a point of reference, it expresses the necessity of the reconstruction and counterattack of the workers’ union movement, the organization of the workers’ struggle, based on their own interests against the line of compromise and submission to the interests of the employers, line which continue to cultivate the forces at the core of employer government-controlled unionism. The creation and action of PAME rocked the stagnant waters.
This was confirmed through the big fronts and the struggles, starring the unions and the trade unionists who have been rallying in PAME in recent years. We want to bring these fronts and these struggles back to the discussion with the workers and the unions, to study them, to spread them, to learn lessons, to multiply them, to generalize them in the workplaces.
We have accumulated valuable experience, because every front of struggle, every small or big struggle that was opened on the initiative of the PAME forces, was consistently under the perception of defending the modern needs of the workers against the anti-popular policy of bourgeois governments and business groups. It was the element that unified the struggles, strengthened joint action and solidarity, illuminated the perspective of the movement.
Such big fronts were:
- The battle for Collective Bargaining Agreements-CBA and wage increases for the National Collective Contract-EGSSE: A big front that we opened in the unions against “competitiveness”, the adaptation to the “fiscal” rules, the freezing of wages, the overall strategy of the bourgeois parties. Against the effort of the employers’ and government trade unions, the leaderships of GSEE and ADEDY, not to open this issue for more than a decade, remaining faithful to the memorandum commitments and the line of “resilience of the capitalist economy”. The PAME initiative and the framework of the struggle for the CBA, which brought together 513 unions at the end of 2016, played a decisive role, as with the Sectoral Contract of Construction workers, also in the Shipbuilding Zone, where for the first time after eight years the strategy of frozen wages was broken with the signing of a sectoral Collective Contractof the Metal Trade Union in 2017, at COSCO and elsewhere.
- The struggles for the defense of Social Security. The focus was on the Katrougalos law of SYRIZA and the Vroutsi law of ND on the professional funds. The rallying forces work from below strengthened, while the contribution of the pensioners’ Unions is special, the action of the Coordinating Committee of the Struggle with a focus on the IKA Pensioners’ Federation, which emerged as the natural organizer – coordinator of the pensioners movement.
- The period of the Pandemic is a separate chapter of the action of PAME, a great legacy in the modern course of the workers’ union movement. The debate on all fronts intensified, for the defense of the right to health, income, rights and freedoms. There was an escalation of intervention, which started with symbolic mobilizations, such as theones by health workers outside the Ministry of Health and there were nationwide, general strikes. Strike struggles in which the disobedience was expressed in the repression and in the attempt to limit the action of the unions (eg Chrysochoidis and Hatzidakis laws). They were actions that culminated in the organized disobedienceof the unions that rally with PAME on –the now historic – May Day and at the actions In honor of the 2020 anniversary of the Polytechnic Uprising. Actions that became known all over the world, showed the strength of the organized working class and the class struggle, spread hope and optimism. They sent the message of “organized disobedience”.
- The Golden Dawn trial and the struggle to root out fascism from the workplaces and the unions. The enormous contribution of the class unions and other pioneering activists who unite in PAME was the steadfast and constant isolation of the Nazis in the workplaces, the cultivation of zero tolerance for their actions and views. Their revelation, their expulsion from unions, the cancellation of their attempt to participate with in union elections on the backs of their employers, the militant response in the workplaces, whenever they dared to appear for a tour or whenever they acted as employers henchmen. The contribution to the mass mobilization of tens of thousands in the Golden Dawn trial. The courageous attitude of the PAME trade unionists from Piraeus in the trial.
- The trade unions and unions that unite in PAME, before and especially during the pandemic, gave themilitant tone in the confrontation with government policy in education. They highlighted the class consequences in education, but also in the general psychosocial and physical condition of the students. They targeted the reactionary legislative framework that further promotes the class categorization of schools and students. They stepped forward and organized the fight against the reactionary content of the “Evaluation” measure, which tightens the state control on teachers to what students learn.
- Action against the imperialist war, solidarity with refugees andmigrants: It is a firm position of PAME, which was founbded in the flames of the imperialist war in Yugoslavia in 1999. This year’s meeting is taking place while the At the same time, significant anti-imperialist activity is developing by the unions that rally in PAME. We are constantly cultivating anti-imperialist action, expressing our solidarity with peoples and unions that are at the center of wars, with refugees, especially in the big waves of 2017-2018, fighting against racism and xenophobia. In 2017, many trade unionists from other countries supported the anti-imperialist two-day event in Thessaloniki.
An important chapter is the effort made with migrants in a number of industries, such as Food – Beverages and Textile. The recent experience from the intervention of PAME in the land workers of Manolada has a huge impact and counts positive results. Today, a delegation of migrant land workers, these land workers who produce the “red gold”, is here with us, despite threats and blackmail. We give them a special welcome.
- A key battle was the fight against the imposition of the Hatzidakis law, a battle that continues to keep this law only on paper. A law that we name “abortion-law” because it overturns basic conquests of the working class, such as the 8 hour workday, the right to strike and to trade union organization. If it were not for PAME, this law would have passed without any reaction, as the revelation of the MinisterLabor said that the GSEE was co-legislator of the bill, and this bill was voted by most if not by all bourgeois parties.
The rallying of unions and the call for disobedience were widely embraced. There were three strikes in conditions of prohibitions of movement. Strikes that were organized “from the base” by decisions of unions, federations and Regional Trade Union Centers, when the majority of GSEE cultivated inaction and put their backs to pass this law, while the leadership of ADEDY said that it does not concern Public Sector. Yet today many of its provisions have remained inactive, such as the provisions on limiting strikes, on “guaranteed service personnel”, which is only a legal strike-breaking mechanism, to keep dossiers on trade unionsand impose e-voting for unions, used by only a few unions.
- A special chapter is the battles fought by the unions together with all the people for the defense of life and the people’s property, for the protection from natural disasters. The actions of many unions and mass organizations, the formation of struggle committees together with agricultural associations for the flood victims in Thessaly and Evia, in Ilia, Unions or associations of the self-employed for the consequences of the fires in Mati, Mandra, North Evia, earthquake In Samos and in Crete, in every region where disasters occured, the genuine elements of workers’ solidarity and support, but also of the social alliance, emerged. They fought a tremendous battle to uncover the real causes of these catastrophes and to highlight the vital demands for the protection of life and the rights of the people.
The trade unions and unions that rally in PAME had a great contribution in the formation of struggle demands that expressed the real needs of the workers, they drew a dividing line from the compromise line of GSEE and ADEDY. They gave the opportunity to express new forces militantly, because in these demands they saw the most critical and necessary to be able to live.
The framework of struggle developed by PAME became the basis for the rallying of new unions and trade unionists in the struggles, they strengthened the struggle fronts.
- With our intervention for the National General Collective Agreement and for collective agreements in general, the big issue of working time, fixed daily working time and the need for modern rights became a central issue. Debate ensued over the abolition of 8 hours, unpaid overtime and the regulation of working time, the abolition of the Sunday holiday, the permanence of teleworking and the modern conditions of control and coercion of workers for the intensity of exploitation in the context of the capital strategy for “Digital transition”. We escalated the oppositionwith the flexibleworking relations that dominate the female workforce and are presented as measures for the “reconciliation of family and professional life”. These government measures, this policy does not help the working mother, but divides her family and personal life, since all distinction between working and non-working time is lost,
- A positive experience has been formed from the work for social security, for the protection of the public healthcare and the strengthening of the public health system, for the workers of outsourcing, the substitutes and the fixed-term contract workers in the State with the revision of article 103 of the Constitution brought together many public unions. From the context of the struggle we formed for the Sunday holiday, the defense of income and against inflation, civil protection and natural disasters, for the imperialist war.
A special but important chapter is the international solidarity received by PAME and the unions that rally in it, in important struggles in companies such as COSCO and E-FOOD, during the pandemic and especially with the May Day 2020, which made known all over the world the organized disobedience of the unions in Greece. PAME in turn supported all the major strikes, every union that was in confrontation with the employers, the monopolies, the governments, the imperialist unions in a number of countries, such as France, Italy, India, Turkey, in Kazakhstan. And we will continue in this direction, supporting all the just demands of the militant unions, combined with their solidarity with the peoples of Cuba, Palestine, Cyprus and any other people fighting against imperialist barbarism.
The action of the World Federation of Trade Unions, in which PAME actively participates, supports all its initiatives, played an important role in all this. The WFTU has grown stronger since its last Congress in Rome, Italy, with many new members, from 135 countries representing more than 110 million workers.
The two years of the pandemic revealed even more the real heroes, those who really move the threads of life, struggle and evolution. We saw alive in front of us the material form of our slogan, which was born in the hard class struggles of the previous years: “Without you the gear does not turn, Workers you can without bossed”. The work of millions of workers has kept societies afloat. It became clear who are the necessary and who are the unnecessary, the parasites of social life, who offer absolutely nothing, but hold with the power of the wealth that all the rest of us produce.
The pandemic has come to expose those who try to control to their interests, the developments brought by the progress of technology and scientific advances in the workplace. They are bringing back ideologies around the end of the working class especially in the productive sectors. Those who seek to persuade workers that they must sacrifice their health and their lives, their work and their rights, their trade union and individual freedoms so as not to jeopardize the development of their business and profits.
Against the rotten values of capitalist employers, exploitation and repression, the class trade union movement, the unions and the trade unionists who unite in PAME continued to give pioneering battles and consistently and militantly projected the demands of the workers. They opposed reactionary views that fostered competition between working men and women. They did not obey the calls for submission, they did not say “we will be deal with you later”, but they played a leading role in the organization and the militant resistance of the workers to defend their rights.
With this orientation we continue to put into practice the revitalization and counterattack of the unions with new forces, with greater momentum and determination, in order to defend the rights and to expand the conquests of the workers. To counter the onslaught of government and business groups, the new sufferings that await our people from the imperialist war, the intensification of exploitation and the rise of poverty, the intensification of the attack on workers’ rights, the intensification of state repression and employers’ violence.
THE FIGHT IN GSEE AND ADEDY, IN THE CONGRESSES OF FEDERATIONS AND REGIONAL TU CENTERS. THE NEED FOR MASSIFICATION OF TRADE UNIONS AND CHANGE OF CORRELATION
An important condition in such a course is to close the wound created in the body of workers by the government and employers’ controlled trade union forces, the forces that are in the leadership in GSEE and ADEDY. They are leaders who want the movement handcuffed, captive to the interests of business groups.
The fight that developed during the congresses of major federations and Regional TU Centers, but also within the GSEE itself, was not about the chairs, but about the orientation and the attitude that the unions should have, their release from the line of employers. Against the adoption of the values of competitiveness and social partnership, of class cooperation, in the phenomena of degeneration and fraud, for the liberation of the unions from the deadly embrace of the state and employers.
There was a real struggle, against the line of integration, but also the effort of GSEE, which we all remember, to form in 2017 a caricature that they called a “social alliance” with the employers. We were confronted with the central axis of the anti-popular government of SYRIZA – ANEL, that there can allegedly be capitalist development with a pro-people label, which was advertised in conferences with mayors, employers and employers’ unions in cities across the country. We formed positions of struggle and confrontation, highlighting the necessity of the irreconcilable struggle of the unions with the strategy of the business groups and their governments, whatever their colors, with steps in the militant actions nationwide, per city, per branch.
Without this battle in Regional Centers, Federations, unions, in the GSEE itself, the reflexes would not have risen and the resistance would not have been cultivated in the new attack against the basic trade union rights, in the very character of the unions, in their transformation from collective bodies of workers in electronic caricatures, by organizations of workers in closed clubs managing financial programs and bureaucratic formations, unaffected by the participation of workers through democratic mass processes. Important, from the point of view of the struggle and the fierce conflict, were the battles in the Regional TU Centers of Patras, Corfu, Ioannina, Piraeus, Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, the federations of OIYE, POEM and PNO, while the “Congresses” of GSEE in Kalamata , Rhodes and Kavouri Attica was a significant peak.
It was proved that the leadership of GSEE is not based on the live, active participation of employees. It needed the help of the government and the police to sit and keep its seats, in exchange for the full support of the government and business groups, to carry out their chronic aspirations and enforce them by law during pandemic and under prohibitions of social and political, trade union mass action.
Who can forget that the leadership of GSEE supported the memoranda and all the anti-workers’ measures during the period of many years of capitalist crisis, because, as they said, there is a need for a healthy environment for the development of entrepreneurship? Who does not remember with anger the back that the GSEE leadership put for the imposition of the anti-popular policy during the pandemic period, acquitting the criminal policy of the government and the business groups, saying that the struggles endanger the lives of the workers? Who can forget the declarations of this leadership for the end of the strikes, that they are obsolete forms of class struggle?
The struggle to defend the unions with the slogan “Unions of the workers’ and not of the employers” is right and fair. It was confirmed by subsequent developments. The defense of the militant orientation of the unions, their democratic operation from the overt intervention of the big employers, the line of struggle that they form in conflict with the interests of the employers, are preconditions for not disarming, in order to be able to resist the attacks against the rights of their members.
All this action culminated in large strikes, organized “from below”, with the participation of the largest unions, through struggles in large companies.
Since January 2017, there have been 9 nationwide – general strikes without the participation of the GSEE leadership. In some that it was forced to participate. Following active and large unions that entered and we coexisted, such as the Regional TU Centers of Athens and Piraeus, the public transport unions of Athens and Thessaloniki, seafarers’ unions, large federations of the private and public sector (e.g. OEGNE, POEDIN, etc.).
It is a valuable legacy the effort made to massify the unions, to establish new ones, tothe class unity of the workers. Without changes at the organizational level, there can be no change in correlation, no talk of reconstructing the movement.
Tough battles have been fought, there are shining examples.
Like the COSCO dock workers’ union fought hard in very difficult conditions to impose health and safety measures at work and sign a collective agreement. In the last 4 years alone, the union has organized more than 15 days of strikes, almost all of which were deemed illegal by the civil courts, but took place with the mass participation of the workers and the great solidarity that this struggle received.
Like the union of Evangelismos Hospital, with its seal first united the workers in the field of health, making hundreds of wildly exploited cleaners, caterers of contractors, organizing a joint struggle of doctors, nurses, workers and patients. It paved the way for most of the Hospitals in the country to work with such an orientation, as a result of which the statute of their Federation, POEDIN, was changed at its recent Congress.
It is a crucial issue to strengthen the level of organization of the working class. A necessary condition is the entry of young workers, women, migrants. The unions to root in large workplaces and critical industries. The unity of employees, regardless of their employment relations.
A crucial issue, too, is the decisive improvement of the operation of the unions. Their involvement with all issues concerning young people, the working family, opening the front to the trade union and breaking the limits to the issues of each area that are constantly reproduced by the attack of employers.
IN ORDER TO STRENGTHEN THE CLASS STRUGGLE, THE CONFLICT WITH THE POLICY OF MONOPOLIES AND CAPITALIST BARBARITY NECESSARY CONDITION IS THE STRENTHENING OF PAME WITH NEW UNIONS, NEW FORCES.
It is necessary today to intensify the struggle in the workplaces, in the sectors, to intensify the counterattack of the workers union movement, to root the organized workers response everywhere!
It is harmful to the workers’ movement not just to become an applause for government choices, but evens to become a lever of pressure for changes of government. There has never been a government that did not escalate the anti-popular attack, that did not continue from where the previous one remained. The experience of the change of government, the so-called “first time left” proved to be painful for the workers.
Against those who anticipate the end of the unions, their transformation into e-clubs and the replacement of live participation with a “like”, all those who have discounted the end of the strike as a form of struggle, those who try to turn the unions into a sidekick to government rotations and assigning the struggle to future-government Messiahs, it is necessary for the workers union movement to discuss collectively and in an organized way, to decide its answer.
The power of the workers lies in the class struggle, in the organization and the demanding struggle. What was conquered in the history of the trade union movement was not given by any government, it was conquered by hard, often bloody class struggles. This has been confirmed by modern struggles.
Today there are all the conditions, productive, scientific and technological, for there to be popular development, for there to be a decent life, work with rights. We are the ones who produce all the wealth! Our sweat, our toil is reaped by a handful of monopoly groups. That can change.
Therefore, the struggle to recover our losses, for a dignified life, must be combined with the struggle for development that aims to meet our vital, modern needs at work and life, and not the profits of a handful of groups. Such development cannot exist as long as the bourgeoisie holds the helm of power and owns the means of production. Nor inside any imperialist alliances, such as the EU, NATO. That is why we are fighting for the liberation of our country from these predatory imperialist organizations.
That’s why today we need:
A workers union movement that will fight against the exploitation of man by man. It will demand modern working conditions, with a fixed daily working time, with increases in salaries and pensions, with the expansion of social benefits, for a reduction of working hours, a demand that is long overdue.
A living movement that will change the negative correlation, will overthrow the bureaucratic, governmental, pro-employers leaderships and processes. With trade unions that will unite workers, regardless of employment relations, will defend the living, collective processes with the active participation of workers, will operate on their basis. Unions open and democratic, a pole of attraction for young workers, every worker, employee to see in the action of unions, his claims, his anxieties, the solidarity of his colleagues.
Movement of Counterattack and not of defeatism and compromise. Trade unions independent of the clutches of employers and their governments, with an open front against them.
A movement that will take the struggle one step further, proposing comprehensive demands that cover the modern popular needs and the possibilities that emerge based on science and technology.
A movement that will be on the side of the oppressed, with genuine international solidarity, against the imperialist wars that bring bloodshed to the people, create poverty, misery and refuge.
We are discussing the framework of PAME struggle and we want it to be a criterion for the organization and the struggle of the workers as we have done since our establishment.
We claim the life we deserve. No compromise with poverty, miserable life, with the logic of the possible based on the competitiveness and profitability of the businesses groups. The logic of constant retreat does not save, the logic of the lesser evil, the logic that identifies the interests of the workers with the interests of the companies, since their hunger for our exploitation is endless.
We strive for each Federation, Regional TU Center, union to have its own responsibility in the formation of goals, deamands. To take into account the conditions and developments in each area, the degree of organization and the dispositions of the workers with an orientation to unify the class direction and to become stronger by industry and between large workplaces.
Criterion for our claims are modern working class needs and the ability of our time to realize them and not the profits of the bosses. We highlight the causes that obstract social progress, are a weight in social development, which is the domination of capitalist property, the pursuit of profit, their imperialist unions and their parties. Life itself, the rich experience, especially in recent years, clearly proves that in the context of the EU, the power of the monopolies, there can be no pro-people government solution.
We project goals and demands, how it is worth living and working today based on the development of science and the means of production. Today there are all the possibilities for steady jobs with rights, reduction of working hours, universal social security, high quality free healthcate and welfare services, for health protection and safety at work, for education, social protection of motherhood, so that women not to be forced to work part-time or seasonally or not work for some years.
We seek the context of struggle to be the subject of discussion by the workers themselves, with the open, mass, democratic processes of the unions. Workers to have a say, to make proposals, to have a substantial confrontation of ideas and positions, to co-decide and implement their decisions.
There are plenty examples to strengthen the debate about what unions the working class needs today, with what line of struggle, with effective participation of workers and democratic operation, mass and rooted in the workplaces, as opposed to the bureaucratic operation of the unions that is promoted by the employers’ and government controlled trade unions, the so-called e-voting without participation in the collective processes in which an employee can form a criterion through the struggle, but also the electronic file.
This effort, combined with the struggles and the line of disobedience in the anti-workers laws, had a substantial contribution, so that a year after the legislation of these provisions have been implemented by only a few unions, they have remained practically inactive.
The reconstruction of the trade union workes movement goes through this path. It requires good knowledge, experience, a unified plan, orientation, counter-attack goals, a movement of overthrow and hope.
PAME is strengthening and planning new, bigger and more militant struggles.
Enemies and friends recognize that PAME is the most organized and militant part of the trade union movement, several more unions and many workers who have some reservations are looking forward to it and its initiatives.
With PAME and its struggles there were small victories, delaying of the full-frontal attack that took place, we put obstacles. New workers joined the unions and the movement, a new generation of fighters emerged who took the baton from the previous one.
Today, the necessity of strengthening PAME and expanding it with new unions, with new forces, emerges.
We call in rallying with PAME all those unions that, despite their reservations, look forward to the strengthening of the workers movement and understand the importance of a strong class pole.
We make it clear once again that the All Workers Militant Front is a coalition of Federations, Regional TU Centers, unions, struggle committees and trade unionists with a class line of struggle, against class collaboration and exploitation. It is not a party faction, nor an organization above and outside the unions.
PAME is a conquest of the working class! From its foundation in 1999, it has been fighting against injustice, employer and state repression, against exploitation and capitalist barbarity.
The power and prestige of PAME lies in the pioneering action of the unions and the workers in the branches and in the workplaces, where the exploitation is born. It does not stem from conciliation with employers, nor from identification with governments that defend the system of exploitation.
PAME is a nail in the eye of employers and their governments. They have been hitting it for 23 years in every way and with mud, slander. The slander and mud is done because they cannot hit what PAME really is, its line and its positions. They cannot limit its vanguard action.
The impact of PAME’s positions is growing, as is the recognition of the pioneering action of the unions that are united in it. This is confirmed by the participation in the meetings of the PAME unions, such as for example on October 5, 2021, which created new and better conditions for the strengthening of joint action with unions, with which we fought together, quite for the first time.
This militant participation was expressed in many mobilizations in workplaces and sectors during the pandemic, in the strikes against the anti-popular policy and the Hatzidakis law, in many rallies, such as on February 26, 2022, which had new quality characteristics, especially in Athens, in terms of the participation of Unions in large industrial sectors of strategic importance, which show the great potential for the development of our country, if the people were at the helm of power, such as Kavala Oils, Kavala Fertilizers, LARCO, the Port, and other industries and workplaces.
The involvement of broad forces and live experience is of great importance to clear up confusions and prejudices that the opponent is working on. This is shown by our experience.
We seek through live debate to strengthen the interest and to answer the concern that exists among thousands of workers about the role of trade unions in reversing this situation. To increase the mobilization in the struggle, the coordination of hundreds of unions in the development of the struggle on big fronts that concern the life of the workers.
THE UNIONS RALLYING IN PAME ACT AS PIONEERS AND OPEN THE ROAD FOR THE SOCIAL ALLIANCE OF WORKERS WITH THE SELF -EMPLOYED AND THE POOR FARMERS, WOMEN AND CHILDREN OF WORKING AND POPULAR FAMILIES
For the last 12 years, joint action has been sought with unions and mass organizations of the self-employed and the poor peasantry based on a common framework of struggle. We have tried to identify particular problems of working sections of the people who are not workers, the sufferings they have from the policiess and domination of monopolies. The joint actions and especially the participation of PAME forces in mobilizations of poor farmers helped fighting sections of our people to overcome prejudices about PAME and the action of the trade unions. The reception of the fighting farmers in 2016 in Syntagma by the trade unions of Attica that unite in PAME is also being discussed in the farmers’ blocs. We saw in practice the strength of the social alliance.
Developments require a more adapted and consistent continuation, taking into account the lessons of the militant experience and the changes that have taken place.
One such example is the very positive common struggle of trade unions and mass organizations to defend the health and life of the people during the pandemic. The struggle was organized with demands that were shaped by the criteria of the rights and health of the people and not the “endurance” of the capitalist economy. The struggle for the strengthening of the public health sector, for free and under the responsibility of the state mass vaccination of all the people, for the requisition of large business groups in the field of health that were profiting at the same time that the people were constantly counting new victims, almost won complete support.
Another example is the fight to defend the rights of teachers, students and pupils. In this territory, steps have been taken and can be taken to coordinate the unions with the parents’ Associations, with the students’ militant coordination committees, to put into practice the slogan “worker, make your own case, the future and the education of your child”. Seeking to open a front in the content of mainly primary and secondary education, in pre-school education. We meet with these children, tomorrow’s workers and current students and we want to meet in the next big battles against and the laws that set new barriers and filters in the effort of young people to get valuable university degrees, with free public studies. We are together in the fight against the presence of the university police, in the escalation of state repression within the universities.
This experience, combined with the joint action of trade unions and mass organizations, the city’s self-employed, poor farmers, women’s associations against inflation and taxation, against auctions and foreclosures, to protect the lives and property of the people from natural disasters, highlighted the importance of the common struggle, the social alliance against the monopolies and the anti-popular policy that serves them, in order to cancel the “guild-like” unionism in the workers’ union movement, the confinement in sectoral issues and even in confrontation with other sections of workers fueled by the constant attack of employers. It opened new paths in the action and the struggle of the unions for their struggle for all the issues that concern the difficult life of the working class family.
Significant social problems are the basis for the more stable development of the common struggle of workers’ unions, farmers’ associations, self-employed organizations, associations and groups of Women, self-employed scientists’ organizations, artists, students, social alliance in practice.
Trade unions focus on issues of survival and living conditions (protection of public income, health, insurance, education, welfare, social infrastructure, food security and protection services) and substantive collective processes, joint meetings, substantive discussion in the unions’ administrations concerning more broadly the working-class families, concerning the majority of the self-employed and bread earners farmers. They support their demands for protection against auctions, seizures, against the inflationetc. They jointly oppose imperialist wars, raids and plans.
This is the way to intensify the fight against those who oppress our people, the big monopoly groups and the bourgeois state that serves them. It is the way to the great social uprisings that prioritize the modern social needs of all the people