20 years ago, on April 3, 1999, with the participation of hundreds of trade unionists from dozens of Unions, was founded the All Workers Militant Front, PAME, as a necessity of the times, opening a new page for the class trade union movement, continuation of the rich traditions and values of the working class of our country.
Beginning then, we were aware of the difficulties that we would have before us, the obstacles we would encounter, the unfavorable correlations we would need to overcome. On the basis of this reality, we must confess that, at the beginning, we were hesitant until the initiative was public and the first actions in workplaces and branches began to be organized. This was the momentum, enthusiasm was created as the messages from the workers said: “Move forward”, “this situation cannot continue any more. Act”!
Two days later, on April 5, the PAME trade unionists resigned from the GSEE Presidium, based on these moods, “disturbing the stagnant waters” of subordination to the leadership of the Confederation.
PAME in its 20 years of life has given clear and obvious examples of its character. Overcoming threats, intimidation and dirty assaults, itwas on the first line ofthe organization of struggles and strikes, it gave courage, strength and inspired thousands of workers, it delayed antiworkers’ measures, itwas present in every workers’ demand. During the years of capitalist growth and the last difficult years of the capitalist crisis, it did not put water in its wine, did not enter into social dialogues, did not adopt opinions and ideas of the social partnership, which opened the pit for the workers. No one, until now, has been able to put PAME in their hands.
PAME proved in practice that it is not a summation of factions but a fighting-class front of unions, regional trade union centers, federations, workers’ militant committees and workers. It does not derive its strength and prestige from flashy titles and fights of the image but from its daily and unwavering presence in factories, work sites, offices and shopping centers, hotels, harbors and every workplace, from the rich action and its struggles.
That is why, today and from this step, we call for a joint struggle 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 give our hand to trade unionists and workers who oppose the trade union Mafia, who are troubled, who are looking for a shoulder next to them.
The steps that have been recorded in PAME’s action since 1999, its roots in many branches and places of work, the pioneering action of the PAME forces in the workers-people’s struggles, the strikes, the small and big battles that have developed the previous years-withoutstepping back aninch from the slogan “law is the right of the worker”- constitute the ground for the continuation of the counter-attack of the workers together with those affected by the dictatorship of the monopolies.
PAME since the first day of its foundation, learned hard! It immediately received the attack from the capital and his people. At the beginning, the trade union forces of PASOK (social democrats), ND(conservatives), SYN, which today is SYRIZA, and others accused it of “dividing” the workers, then changed their tactic and slandered PAME as political party faction, aiming to undermine PAME and its role.
It takes a continuous struggle to isolate the slanderers and liars. What disturbed and disturbs is the line of struggle, the orientation with which hundreds of unions are rallying and seeking this line to dominate the workers’ trade union movement.
Orientation and fight against the plans of monopolies, business groups and companies, against the political parties that represent them, against the EU as a one-way path. With demands formulated under the criterion that today workers are to live and work on the basis of the vast potential of science, the development of productive means, the wealth they produce and not the criteria of the capitalists, business and competitiveness, and maximum profit. Under the criterion of the well-being of the many who work and suffer and not the profits of the few.
The new thing that PAME brought is the distinct rallying and action of the working class organizations that reject the dangerous for the workers’ interests theory of “social partnership”. The alleged “common interests” of workers and employers who will sit around a table and fairly share the wealth produced, the fraud of social dialogues, the unconditional surrender of the workers’ trade union movement.
In the years of capitalist development it was at the forefront of struggles for increases and widening of rights, against the logic of expectation and “social peace.” Prior to the outbreak of the capitalist crisis, it pioneered against the climate of waiting and illusions. Greece was among the top 10 countries in the world at rates of capitalist growth. It urged workers in a “War Against the Black Front of Business Groups-Government-GSEE” that cultivated inaction, argued that “money exist” and “green growth”
With the outbreak of the capitalist crisis, all governments irrespective of color, one-party, or coalition, enforced and imposed brutal anti-workers’ measures and Memoranda to secure the profitability of business groups. They cut wages and pensions. They legalized massive layoffs and increased unemployment. They imposed privatizations and attacked trade union rights and freedoms.
PAME was in the vanguard of the struggle against all memoranda and anti-workers’ laws. The slogan “No sacrifice-The plutocracy must pay for the crisis” gave the tone for struggles and the ideological struggle against the logic of “everyone bearing the burden” to “share the burdens of the crisis.” Its slogans were adopted by broader forces of workers and popular strata. PAME was strengthened with new trade unions, sectoral and business-level, Regional Trade Union Centers. Its influence grew, hundreds of new elected trade unionists are working on its line, struggling to alter the correlations of forces in all branches to re-construct the movement.
PAME took steps for unified among workers, self-employed, poor farmers, women’s radical organizations and youth, in conditions of brutal antiworkers’ attack it intensified its intervention.
Against the action of PAME and the class unions, came a huge attack from the capital and its people. Measures of repression, employers’ intimidations, the legal arsenal of our class opponents, but also mud, slander.
PAME’s action did not only concern wages and solely working conditions issues. It made efforts and took initiatives to develop trade union action on all issues relating to the worker and his family. It supported initiatives for amateur art creation. It created theater, dance, choral groups that have performed hundreds of events in workplaces, neighborhoods and theaters. It took initiatives for the needs and problems of the youth, the apprentices. It developed action against drugs. The football tournament of the PAME Youth Secretariat became an event that involves thousands of workers. It took initiatives for the working woman, protection of maternity. It organized blood bank and took dozens of solidarity initiatives for the victims of disasters in Greece and around the world.
True to the principles of proletarian solidarity, it had a firm stand against xenophobia, racism and fascism. From the very beginning, it organized solidarity and the struggle for the rights of refugees, for those uprooted by the imperialist wars and interventions. It was firmly at the forefront of organizing immigrants in trade unions and for the common struggle of Greeks and Immigrants against capital, and that is why it is permanently at the aim of the employers and their lackeys the fascists of Golden Dawn.
PAME, steady to the principles of Internationalism in 2000, becomes a member of the World Federation of Trade Unions. The recognition of the role of PAME in the WFTU was also expressed in awarding the 16th Congress of the WFTU in 2011 in Athens.
PAME was founded during the struggles against the imperialist massacre in Yugoslavia and against the participation of Greece in this massacre. Today, our whole neighborhood is in fire! More than a million victims, uprooted by wars, have fled the Aegean Sea, the sea has flooded with the drowned, and the refugees’ drama continues without end.
We have a duty to strengthen the fight against nationalism in the trade unions, against chauvinism, racism and the imperialist war. To strengthen solidarity with the peoples, solidarity with refugees and immigrants. To strengthen the isolation of the criminal Nazi gang of the bosses, the Golden Dawn, in all working places. These problems cannot be outside the trade unions, because the workers have no interest in spilling their blood for oil barons, arms dealers, industrialists and bankers.
We do not accept our country, our harbors, our islands, our airports, to become bases and platforms for the imperialist massacres and our children serving in the army to become meat to feed their cannons. To close down the military bases of death, no involvement of Greece in the NATO and EU slaughterhouses.
In our country, the damage caused by government-employers led unionism is great. The wound that has opened in the trade union movement is deep, it does not close easily.
Their dominance in strategic sectors, large trade unions in industry, energy, telecommunications, ports, transport, former state companies, is a major obstacle for the unity of workers and the class orientation of the struggle.
They still refuse today to accept to their unions thousands of workers who work through contractors, contract workers, poorly paid workers of slave-trading outsourcing companies, who are working in the same premises. They keep the younger shift of workers unorganized. The difficulties we encounter in organizing workers are many.
All these years, they appear in common ballots, a common opposition against PAME in big federations and trade unions, where they see a step in overturning the correlations. They maintain a mechanism of controlling the correlations in cooperation with the employers and the state. All this is accompanied by phenomena of corruption, squandering of millions of funds and programs of buying out. The correlation in GSEE ADEDY organizations, their line and their work have resulted in the depreciation of trade unions to workers.
For a whole period during the crisis they did not hesitate to adopt the most reactionary slogans. They also embraced the slogan “Out the parties and the unions from the struggles”, a slogan jointly cast by all the bourgeois forces, adopted by SYRIZA and other well-known opportunists. The fascists of the Golden Dawn in the squares of the indignados became a tool of entrapment of popular protest and rage. They became a breeding ground of Nazism, and became another blow to the value of participation and struggle in the unions and the struggle in the factories, the places of work where the employers and the exploitation dominate.
The heritage of PAME’s action is the highlighting of the two lines inside the trade union movement. Emphasizing the need for unions militant, massive, of workers. Unions that will fight for workers’ rights against employers and their mechanisms within the trade union movement. Unions that will struggle for the peoples to live without poverty, unemployment and wars. For the live and active forces in the workplaces, who are demanding to put the people’s needs in the front line, it is solved that the way of conflict with the anti-people’s policy and the strategy of the business groups goes through the unstoppable struggle against the political and trade union servants of the business groups.
That is why the conflict that is currently taking place against the trade union mafia is a precondition for the reconstruction of the workers’ trade union movement! At a time when the rot of employers’ and government led unionism covers everything, and the union mafia tries everything so as to preserve its union survival in any way and prioritizes the interests of the business groups, PAME, with its positions, initiatives and its action, seeks to emerge as the main factor of class rallying and unity of the working class.
All these years we have given and we are giving all our strength, using all the ways that we have to reach even to the last worker and to pull them away from the nails of employers, to convince them to organize, to fight, to claim the satisfaction of their needs.
The correlation of power was never the result of a ballot or a congress. We measure our strengths differently, we have other criteria for the organization of the workers’ union movement. We are proud and we walk with our heads high, we look the workers in the eyes. We can talk about the struggles of the steelworkers, construction workers, food and hotel workers, commerce and of every workplace.
All these days we talked with workers who were watching us with skepticism until a while ago. No one agrees with the provocative intervention of the employers themselves inside the unions, the federations, the GSEE. Many tell us not to step back! To cleanse the unions from corruption and employers. The struggle between the two lines in the trade union movement will not stop in Rhodes, as it did not stop at Kalamata, Alexandropoulis etc. The fight will continue and intensify.
However, in the face of what is happening at this time, workers have every right to overcome pressure and extortion and defend their right to have organizations independent of the intervention of the employers and the state! This is PAME’s greatest contribution to the workers-trade union movement.
And we want to make it clear in every direction that this contribution will also seal their next attempt to impose new parody-congress tomorrow in Rhodes. A congress once again away from the workers and in the arms of the employers in luxury hotels. Our claim to cleanse the workers ‘movement from their dirt will be done by the Workers’ Regional Unions, the Federations, the Trade Unions and the Workers.
Rebuilding and reconstructing the workers’ movement is not just a slogan for us. It is not possible to have the reconstruction of the movement, without attacking the dominance and the interests of monopoly groups, without questioning the EU’s strategy, without conflict with anti-people’s policies, with the employers and their mechanisms, without overturning the correlation of forces in the trade unions.
Today there are all the prerequisites, productive, scientific and technological, for there to be a pro-people development, to have a decent life, jobs with rights. We are the ones who produce all the wealth! Our sweat, our struggle is stolen by a handful of monopoly groups.
This can change.
With the struggle for new demands, recovering of our losses, for a dignified life, along with the struggle for another path of development with disengagement with the unions of the imperialists, the EU and NATO. With the working class and the people in power.
20 years later, we are committed to continuing unwavering and class oriented. No step back is permitted.
We open the path to the next day, to the tomorrow of the working class!
For the rights of our class
Because, without us, no cog can turn!
Long Live the 20 Years of PAME