On the behalf of the Executive Secretariat of P.A.ME, with which Labour Centres, unions and Federations are rallied, we welcome you to our conference and we are sending you a warm and militant greeting.
We believe that the topic of today’s meeting is of particular importance as it highlights the common attack of the Capital, the monopolies and the capitalist governments against the workers within each country, with pension and wage cuts, privatization of the social services and social security, of hospitals, of education, etc.. as well as in their foreign policy, the imperialist rivalries for the control of the markets, of the natural resources and the routes of transport.
Colleagues, we reject the idea that the crisis is a Greek phenomenon. The same or similar measures are being taken in other countries regardless of whether they have memorandums or not. The anti-popular anti-labour measures that have been taken and are still in effect, by all the governments of the EU countries, either liberal or social democrat, or so-called «left» or «progressive», «right-wing», of cooperation, or self-efficient were a demand of the big capital. They are dictated by the Maastricht Treaty, the EU White Paper and the subsequent agreements. To increase the competitiveness and profitability of the EU business groups, both internally and internationally, in relation to the economy of China, India, etc. The capitalists, the bourgeois parties and the trade union leaders that serve the system, took advantage of the capitalist crisis to implement them.
These same forces, do not hesitate to massacre entire peoples to ensure their profitability. After the devastating wars of the 20th century, the voracious monopolies and the political forces that serve them, are preparing the new round for the re-division of markets, spheres of influence, transport routes. It is typical, in such cases, the role and positions of the big monopolies of Energy, construction, transport and new technologies as well.
In all EU countries, we, the workers, witness, on the one hand, the escalation of the anti-labour attack, the increase of the repression and the restrictions on democratic and trade union rights. On the other hand, we witness the intensification of the inter-imperialist rivalries, of the wars and interventions by the growing involvement of the European Union countries and NATO.
The examples of Germany are typical, whose policy and role at international level is well known, but it is, not accidentally, withheld that its economic growth was based on the mini-jobs, on the millions of workers under flexible employment relationships, the blow of established trade union rights, especially of young workers, on the exploitation of immigrants etc. A policy that has been served faithfully by Social Democrats and Christian Democrats, but also by some so-called left parties, like DIELINKE, which participated in the local governments.
In France, recently the social democratic government of Hollande, with the anti-labour law El Khomri lead the French workers to large protests and strikes. The same in England, with the renowned contracts of «zero hours.» Similar examples we see in every country, in Denmark, where the class barriers in education are being exacerbated, in Spain, where the pension cuts and the curtailment of social benefits go along with the sheer increase in unemployment, or in Italy, where the cover up of the employers by the government reached to the point to have workers on strike killed in cold blood!
But even in Turkey, where the role of the country in the inter-imperialist rivalries is associated with the attack on wages, on democratic and trade union rights of the workers of Turkey. In Ukraine, where after the selling off of the popular wealth in the 90s and the aggravation of the standard of living of the people, today the people is a victim of the rivalry between EU-US and Russia.
The consequences of the implementation of the anti-popular measures have literally crushed the life of the working people’s family, particularly of the young workers across Europe. At the same time, though, the capitalists, the ship-owners, the bankers, the monopoly groups are exempt from taxes, from their insurance contributions. They are given new incentives for profitability. The banks are being recapitalised with tens of billions, while the workers are being crimped by the brutal taxation.
In this context, the imperialist rivalries take place. In our region, the eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, etc.), but also North Africa, the Middle East and the Eastern Europe are pieces of a chessboard where the pieces are falling one after another. The question is what happens when the pieces will have been eaten. Ukraine is an example. Libya is another.
The temporary and fragile compromises reached between the imperialist camps, are only preparing the next round of conflicts. There is a concentration of forces, changes of alliances, concentration of huge military formations, of new devastating weapons. At the same time the nationalism, the religious hatred, the racism and irredeemable tendencies are being, skilfully, cultivated.
The concentration of such enormous military forces in an area, no longer concerns a local conflict. Under the present conditions, the local conflicts express the conflict between the major imperialist centres, which occur mostly indirectly, or without the direct military involvement of the powerful states. But this is a situation that can change within hours and lead to regional or general conflict.
We have been watching a balance of terror, where as long as the developments will continue to be controlled by the big monopolies, the workers will be invited by the governments and the bourgeois parties, to be aligned behind «national» objectives, a false patriotism or even a nationalistic propaganda. Workers, even in peacetime deal with the war of the bosses. The workers, we face the daily attack of our exploiters. The workers, even in peacetime, we are in constant war for our survival.
During peacetime in Greece the workers have to deal with the anti-labour policy of SYRIZA. SYRIZA in Greece became a government with the promise to solve the people’s problems without disturbing the capitalist power, without rupture with the EU, the imperialist organizations and the monopoly groups. They promised to the people that they would abolish the memorandums and at the same time they would fulfill a number of necessary demands of the working class, the pensioners and the people.
Not only did they do none of these, but they continued steadily the policy of the previous governments. They swept away literally what was left in the reserves of the pension, schools, hospitals, local administration funds in order pay the EU creditors, IMF, ECB. In June 2015, they put on the working class and the people the burden of the third memorandum, the most appalling and destructive one, as it comes to be added on the previous ones. This memorandum in the Parliament was voted by the other bourgeois parties, too.
The new measures of the third memorandum could not be applied by the previous governments since the policies they implemented had the universal opposition and condemnation of the working class and the people. The government of SYRIZA has taken on this role now, to do the «dirty work» and they serve the capitalist system like no one has ever done before, that’s why they have the unlimited support of the bourgeoisie of our country and beyond. Some who have not watched closely the developments and the Syriza party, those who were misled by its demagoguery, they may have been surprised by these developments.
The same doesn’t happen with us. Not only have we not felt any surprise, but we had predicted this development a long time ago. Because SYRIZA never opposed to the EU, the imperialist organizations, the power of the bourgeoisie. On the contrary, the government deepened its cooperation with the state-killer of Israel. They expressed the support to the fascist government of Kiev. While they were imposing brutal taxation on the people, they paid billions for equipment, in the context of NATO. They let NATO’s fleet into Aegean Sea. While, just yesterday, in order to show the degree of their support to the murderous US policy, they tried to prohibit even this fundamental right of the people to protest. At the same time, they are currently preparing a new attack with further reductions in wages and pensions. They are preparing the release of redundancies, which is the request of large multinationals such as LAFARGE, but also the blow for the trade union rights and liberties. First and foremost, for the right of workers to strike.
However, the linking between the anti-labour policies within each country with the participation in imperialist rivalries is a universal phenomenon.
Therefore, serving the interests of the French monopolies in Africa, led France to the intervention in Mali, Central African Republic. The role of Italy in the intervention in Libya, of England in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. and of course of the US, Russia, Turkey in the Middle East and elsewhere. Our country is either way at the centre after participating in the planning of the imperialists, NATO, US, EU.
So, under these circumstances, it is necessary that the labour movement of each country prepare the workers so as not to get aligned behind foreign flags. During a period of «imperialist peace» the workers must not accept to have their salary cut for the profitability of their bosses, and likewise, during a period of war they should not accept people being killed for the profit of the bosses.
But such an attitude is not simple and easy. Firstly, as to the question of the class struggle or class collaboration, as the question of the attitude towards the imperialist war, the union movement has not got a uniform perception and position. In particular, the forces of the ETUC, the ITUC, are part of the propaganda of the imperialist organizations. They are part of the mechanisms of ideological and political deception of the workers, so that workers would accept to become the pawns of the imperialists.
The examples of ETUC and ITUC position are still recent, as well as the largest European confederations in Libya and Syria. They were openly inviting the imperialist organizations to intervene to «bring democracy». At the same time, for the refugees they accept the barbaric policy of the Schengen and the Dublin Regulation, while they are asking to upgrade it. The ETUC with the Association of European Employers BUSINESSEUROPE and the EU signed a joint statement in March, in which they jointly proposed the exploitation of refugees as cheap workforce, which will replace the aging workforce of Europe and will open up new fields of profitability for the employers.
Even today the ETUC speaks openly in favour of the fascist government of Kiev. In ITUC, the vice president is the Israeli, nationalist organization Histadrut that supports the settlements, the murderous policies of Israel against the Palestinian people. Surely, nobody would expect anything different from an organization such as the ETUC, which boasts, as the most historic success, about its role in the overthrow of labour, socialist states of Eastern Europe. Organizations, such as the sectoral organization of ITUC, named INDUSTRIALL, which in its recent conference states as a basic objective the front against «extremism and radicalization ‘! That means that, their enemy, which they declare to be the same as terrorism, is the radical struggle and ideas of the people.
That’s why the ETUC, about the Referendum in Greece, as in Britain recently, urged the workers to vote in favour of staying in the EU, in favour of the Memorandums! That’s why GSEE, a member of the ETUC in Greece, signed the reduction of the basic salary by 25% and by 32% for young workers. They want the workers to be submissive. Unprepared, unorganized, frustrated, without hope. Trapped in the logic of what is less bad, of the reduced demands.
The class trade unions, federations, labor centers and trade unions rallied in PAME in Greece are against them. With the daily action of PAME, all these years we have responded to fear, state and employer terrorism, pessimism, fatalism, social automation. The forces rallied in PAME and the class oriented trade union movement, struggled to make the working class and the people to understand the nature of the capitalist crisis and the causes that spurred it.
We refuted the false dilemmas by governments regarding the need for people to make sacrifices for the salvation of Greece, hiding that in the same country there are two “homes” that of the capital and that of the worker.
PAME struggles for the labor movement to acquire mass characteristics, organizes the struggles of the working class and the people with demands that meet their real current needs according to the wealth currently produced. PAME uses its forces to build and strengthen popular alliance among the working class, the poor farmers, the self-employed, scientists, youth and women of the popular families. We strengthen the struggle against imperialist war and its causes . For the class movement, the fight against the imperialist war is a struggle against the class enemy existing in our own country.
The compromised forces in the trade union movement, try to the damage this wide class force as well as limit its broad appeal and influence. They have not been able to do so, despite their enormous efforts. Today P.A.ME has been accepted, respected and recognized by the working class and our people.
It continues and escalates the struggle in every way it can against capitalist power and property, to abolish the exploitation of man by man. It struggles for the working class and popular strata to get the power and the means of production they have created so that the economy is organized and designed according to plans.
Through this action the solidarity movement was strengthened within pso with the universal labor and popular movement. This is a powerful weapon of the World Working Class.
During its battles,in many cases the class movement in Greece got the help, the support and solidarity of the WFTU, its members and many unions worldwide. In General Strikes, in rallies, in the 9-month heroic struggle of the steel industry. Hundreds of organizations were mobilized worldwide against the anti-labor measures promoted in Greece, supporting our struggles. The solidarity to PAME and the trade unions in Greece against authoritarianism, arrests, dismissals and unionists’ lawsuits, fascist and other violent attacks was huge. This solidarity was often a shield protecting our forces, our trade unionists, workers and we want to thank you via international delegations for your valuable support and assistance.
But we are also proud of the internationalist contribution and solidarity of PAME and the class trade unions of Greece. First and foremost , we are proud of the moving contribution and solidarity to the uprooted refugees and immigrants.
Workers of Greece, expressing their solidarity in difficult economic conditions, give the best answer to racism, xenophobia, the brutal anti-immigrant policy of the EU.
At the same time, the forces of PAME were firmly on the side of the struggles of workers in Europe as well as worldwide wherever possible, in whatever way we could. With messages of solidarity, protests, financial support, material assistance, even with PAME missions and participation in struggles and mobilizations, where we practically with our physical presence supported the just struggle of the workers. Of course, we are not satisfied. The question of solidarity, of internationalism, is the main issue for our unions and has become part of their daily action and orientation, especially in the sectors.
But we believe that our greatest contribution to the international class movement was the development of the struggles and movement in Greece. The struggles and the orientation of the struggle of the class movement have achieved strong blow to logics promoted by the political forces of the bourgeoisie. Through this action , workers think and learn about the real causes of the situation they experience, they draw conclusions from the class struggle.
Today through the experience we gained from this struggle, it is becoming increasingly understood that there cannot be positive solutions for the working class and the people in the EU. As long as the economy, means of production, wealth and power are in the hands of the capital and the bourgeoisie, nothing positive can came out of the changes in various government figures ,of across the political spectrum, «right», «center», «left» who serve and administer the exploitative system with EU.
The solution lies in the organization of labor struggle and popular movement in the direction of the rupture with the causes that destroy the lives of the working people’s family. With the rotten exploitative, brutal capitalist system and the EU.
It is our duty to strengthen struggle against nationalism, xenophobia, their imperialist plans within trade unions. To strengthen solidarity with other peoples, solidarity to refugees and immigrants, the isolation of the fascists. These problems cannot be away from the unions because workers have no interest to shed their blood for the bosses. We mustn’t let our country become a major base for the imperialist slaughter and we mustn’t let the children of our people, soldiers, become meat for their cannons.
Today we know that we have to deal with a difficult situation, a class war, that has been declared by the capital, the Eur. Union and forces who serve it. The struggle for the daily small or big problems of the working class require profound changes in the level of the economy and of Power.
On this basis ,thousands of militant workers fight their battle in all places every day in order to prevent disappointment, which is what the forces that support these policies want. Today, despite the difficulties,there are the conditions for wide participation of popular masses in the labor-popular movement with forms of organization and solidarity that elevate the militant mood.
We know and we are conscious that if we do not give the battle to build mass class movement that clashes with these policies and the system, basically cannot defend the rights of our class regardless of the massiveness and the forms of action that we follow.
There must be class unity, in a solid base, without the illusions and delusions fostered by the forces of compromise in the trade union movement. There must be a long-standing struggle based on plan, determination, selflessness and courage, a struggle that will escalate, will not remain halfway and requires personal sacrifice.
Capitalist development is not a common goal for both workers and capital, the people does not need the capitalist development ,but the planned socialized economy instead, this perspective corresponds to people’s interests.
The so-called opposition between memorandum supporters and anti-memorandum, progressive-conservative people, social democrat-liberal, left-right forces does not exist. Those who support the EU and capitalism are supporters of the memoranda and the anti-labor policies, whatever form they take.
Today it becomes clear for the working class of Europe that governments around Europe, regardless of color, give their all to serve the needs of the capital. Their attack has no end whether there is crisis or capitalist growth.
Dear Colleagues, the working class must answer against this escalating assault by employers and governments that serve them, against the European Union, NATO and imperialist organizations We need the fight for the defense of the working class ,for a decent life, combined with the struggle for another path of development with disengagement from the imperialist unions EU and NATO ,with the working class and the people being at the helm of power.
It is necessary that militant trade unions of Europe and the world take new initiatives for coordination and joint action in this direction.
We have experience. We have taken steps. We have seen our weaknesses and obstacles. We know the harmful role of the yellow unions, the forces of class collaboration. We are stronger with the decisions of the 17th Congress of the WFTU.
In this direction the unions, federations, the Labor Centers that constitute PAME are calling you to look and decide new steps for coordination and cooperation at an international level with the coordination of workers in the sectors being our priority.
We commit ourselves that our federations and unions will participate and act in the international trade union movement more decisively and militantly. For the rally of Europe’s militant unions and the creation of a distinct, class-oriented trade union pole in Europe.
For the strengthening of the World Federation of Trade Unions
For the Strengthening of World class trade union movement
To strengthen the struggle for a society without exploitation of man by man.