Intervention of PAME
Congress of Public Services & Allied Workers TUI of WFTU, Cyprus 2019
On behalf of PAME and class-oriented trade unions of Public Sector of Greece we salute the Congress of TUI Public Sector of WFTU. We thank SIDIKEK PEO and all the comrades in Cyprus for the warm hospitality of our Congress.
In the years since our previous congress in Nepal, we have had many significant developments in Greece. The election of SYRIZA, along with the far-right ANEL party, has not changed the ferocious, anti-workers policies that have been promoted in recent years. On the contrary, we can say that the SYRIZA Government has proved to be one of the most barbaric anti-workers governments in recent decades.While utilizing a left mask, imposed new anti-workers measures to such an extent that the Hellenic Federation of Enterprise (SEV) reportacknowledged that this government has implemented 62% of the requirements of theIndustry owners.It proceeded to the reactionary correlation of the minimum wage with the rate of economic growth, to promote privatization, and to legislate measures against trade unions and the right of workers to strike. While SYRIZA has repeatedly attacked workers-peoples’ demonstrations. SYRIZA’s greatest service, as well as that of Europe’s social democracy forces, is to cultivate illusions about «pro-peoples capitalism, a “humane European Union”. A “good imperialism”.With such arguments, imposed inactivity, disappointment and demobilization of action in workers forces. At the same time, it drew the way for a backlash, with the return to the ND conservative government, but also a broader coverage of far-right, racist and fascist forces. The new government, in the first months of its rule, essentially promoted the laws that SYRIZA had prepared for a new cycle of anti-workers measures.
Particularly in the Public Sector, in the last ten years employees have been reduced through layoffs, mergers, closures, early and regular retirement, bans of hiring, etc. by 150.000. During the same period, through cuts, salary cuts, tax increases, etc., civil servants’ salaries have dropped substantially by 40%. While all these developments and underutilization of services have a direct negative impact on the functioning of public services, the provision of social services to the broader populations. Specifically, in Health the proportion of nursing staff is 1 for every 40 patients. Inschoolsthereis 1 teacherfor 28 students. In Health and Education alone, organic gaps are currently over 50.000, with no recruitment. Across the Attica Region, with 470.000 employees retiring, there are only 13 employees now to work in the application process! The intensification and attack on workers has also been reflected in the huge increase in ‘work accidents’. Specifically, we had 50 dead in the workers of the regional and local government (OTA). At the same time, the terrible shortages in staff and the poor condition due to cuts and underfunding were also seen in various natural disasters. For example in 2018, 100 dead people were killed in fires near Athens, where there was no protection, prevention plan, no adequate firefighters, no staff, not even a nearby hospital for immediate treatment of victims.
This situation for workers is expected to worsen with the policy of the “Executive state” recently legislated by the ND government and leads the way for the privatization of local government services.A separate issue is developments with the imperialist wars and rivalries in the region, as well as with the issue of the refugees. The Greek Governments have consistently supported US-NATO-EU plans in the region. They strengthened relations with Israel and fully surrendered Greek land, air and sea to the US-NATO murdering mechanism.Especially with refugees, the barbaric policy of the EU, the Dublin Regulations and the Greece-Turkey Agreement have turned Greece into a huge prison, with refugee concentration camps in dire conditions. This situation is also exploited by a number of NGOs, which make millions out of human suffering, while the situation is used by fascist and racist forces.
The EU’s role as anoppressorof the working class, the people, is being revealedincreasingly. The EU is becoming increasingly reactionary and workers will live in conditions of extreme poverty and misery if they do not rise up. It is becoming increasingly clear that a prospect cannot exist without a break-up and conflict with these forces. The solution lies in overthrowing them.
In the face of these developments PAME, the class oriented trade unions of the Public Sector took a series of initiatives and actions. There were dozens of strikes in the Public Sector, as well as more than 40 General Nationwide Strikes. Occupations, Demonstrations, etc.Also meetings, conventions, information initiatives. We organized an International Seminar on Health and Safety at Work. We participated in the International Week of Action of the TUI every year and supported the TUI Conference in Europe.
To prevent the mobilization of Greek workers, EU and Greek government have made use of the ETUC-ITUC. In an unprecedented move, the ETUC-ITUC issued a series of Press Releases against PAME and the Greek militant unions. With the same arguments used by the fascists, with anti-communism and lies. TheETUC-ITUC trade unionists in Greece have reached the point of asking the Governments to send the police into the unions’ congress to “protect” them from the workers. So, we have unions in which the police is allowed to be, but the workers are banned. That is why these forces in Greece during the days of strike, they were nowhere to be found. They were far away from the workers, but at the tables of social dialogues with Governments.
We, dear comrades, believe that today we have theexperience; we have the opportunity to take new, militant steps forward to have living, militant unions, workers’ defenders, at the forefront of the struggle against capitalist exploitation. And not unions that are bureaucratic, corrupted, servants of governments and capitalists. We can and must strengthen WFTU in Europe and worldwide.
But we think this requires work intensity, multiplication and improvement of our initiatives. Raising the question of what trade unionswe want, what movement we want. We want trade unions that are constantly pioneering and organizing workers with the ambition to organize all workers.To ensure their participation in trade union life, to cultivate and raise the level of class-oriented attitude.Standing firmly in solidarity, constantly caring for the unity of workers against the business groups, governments. Trade union pioneers in the fight for Collective Agreements, social security, health and safety in the workplace but also in the fight for people’s health, education of children, survival of the unemployed, the common struggle with young people, Trade unions that organize and plan massive collective processes where workers express their opinions, participate in decisions, choose forms of struggle, find ways totheir direct alive democratic active participation of their members in order to understand from their own experience of class struggle the cause of the problems in their lives, to recognize the real opponent.
Dear Comrades, today, according to the GlobalWealth 2019 report, 1% of the population holds 44% of world wealth, while 55% of the Earth’s adult population holds only 1.8% of total world wealth. And this proves that while today there are all the prerequisites, productive, scientific and technological, for a development in favor of the people, for a decent life, a job with rights, a small minority owns the wealth. We need to change this, for a world where wealth will belong to those who produce it.