Report on the Huge Disaster by wildfires in Greece

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Since last week Greece has suffered a series of wildfires that till Sunday August 8 had burned more than 460,000 acres of land, forests, olive trees, crops and more than 1.000 houses. A disaster that continues as the fires still burn in Evia and other areas.

This disaster is not caused solely “by extreme weather conditions and climate change” as the Greek Government stated. It was only a few weeks ago that the militant unions and residents of many areas protested against the great shortages in firefighting equipment, human resources and the lack of an integrated fire fighting plan. When the unions and local organizations demanded measures of protection against wildfires the Government stated that “The state mechanism is ready.” One example is that the budget for fire fighting this year was only 1.7€ million Euros when at the same time the Greek State paid 6.6€ billions for NATO and 30€ millions for Police in Universities.

They did not create ICUs and hospital beds against the pandemic and they did not get Fire Trucks and firefighter planes to prevent forest fires. The priorities of the bourgeois state are determined by the big businesses and how they will share the “packages of Green Development”.

Against this situation from the first moment PAME highlighted the need for solidarity with the victims of the disaster. At the same time PAME stated

“We call on all workers, the people to show the utmost vigilance where they are, with a sense of responsibility to contribute so that there are the least possible losses in our forest wealth, in rural areas and homes.  To assist the few and understaffed fire fighting forces that give an unequal battle with the flames day and night. It is clear that the people have been left at the mercy of the fires by the government. The only plan the state has is “run for your lives”.

We call the Regional Trade Union Centers all over the country to organize fire safety teams, to assist the forces guarding the forests.

We will coordinate with the unions in the areas affected and will inform for the organization of collection of essential items for the victims.

FORWARD TO SAVING THE REMAINING FORESTS WHICH ARE PEOPLE’S PROPERTY, RURAL AREAS AND PEOPLE’S HOMES”.

PAME also made an intervention to the Greek Industrialists’ Union and demanded

  • Close all factories and workplaces in areas with wildfires
  • To ensure the protection of all workers and for that to take all the necessary measures
  • The payment of the wages of the workers in the companies affected by the fires, with the responsibility of the employers and the state. No worker to be laid off or put on suspension from work

At the same time PAME has formed the following list of demands

The anger is great. The main thing is the protection of human life.

 Under no circumstances should be lost from the focus of discussion and struggle the next day of the lives of the victims, the workers affected by the fires. We demand

  • Without any delay to be taken all immediate measures, to make available all the means and to use all the possibilities in the battle to extinguish the fires
  • Take measures to prevent new fires in forest areas by recruiting the necessary staff to monitor the forest areas equipped with all the necessary means for immediate intervention and response to fires
  • Closure of all factories and workplaces in the fire areas until the safety of the workers’ lives is ensured from the fires and the existing dangers of rekindles of fires.
  • Ensure the payment of the wages of the workers in the companies affected by the fires, with the responsibility of the employers and the state. No worker to be laid off or put on suspension from work or suffer pay cuts as experience shows that big employers use such developments to promote such antiworkers’ measures.
  • Give compensation to workers whose work and income are directly dependent on the forest such as resin collectors and now remain without any income in the areas of catastrophic fires.
  • The provision of housing, the first urgent needs, the restoration of infrastructure, the fastest possible return to their villages and homes of the victims, the immediate start of anti-flood works, the financial support of all families, farmers and professionals, those who lost their jobs, require direct recruitment in municipalities and regions, specialized workshops.
  • No illusions, no trust in the Government. The victims of the fires must find the courage to stand on their own two feet, to form committees, the unions, farmers’ associations and professionals to come forward, to claim what they lost. Only with their struggle and solidarity from all the people will there be conditions to remain in their homes, in their villages.

It is neither fatal nor inevitable to be burned in the summer with wildfires and to be drowned by floods with the first rains. The causes are specific and must be found in the policy consistently pursued by all governments that promotes the commercialization of land, the development of business at the expense of the environment and the safety of workers’ lives. “Doing business” in the mountains and forests for the few to profit and the needs of the many, the security of their lives, the work of a lifetime are sacrificed for this purpose.

PAME calls on the people to express their solidarity with the victims of the great catastrophic fires. The unions in each area to organize the collection of solidarity aid and in coordination with the unions of Evia and the other affected areas to deliver it to the fire victims.

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