We must respond to the plans of the business groups and the government through our struggle and organization
The attack on the popular income, wages and labor relations is endless. The strategy of the big capital and the E.U. that aims at the full liberalization of the labor market is in progress. There will be a new generalized attack on every right of workers. The wages, working hours, dismissals, labor relations, pensions and health care will be targeted once again.
They want the wages to be 200-300 euros per month. This is their target;the workers to be paid with starvation wages. The miserable wages of employment programs, the wagesfor young workers in apprenticeship programs are in this direction. They pave the way for generalized reductions in all wages and for individual contracts. The crystal clear demands of the large business groups for wages of 300 euros as a condition to invest in the country are recent.
These demands are based on particular planning, on the general target of the dissolution of the labor relations and of collective contracts, the full liberalization of the labor market. The increase of exploitation through the reduction of the price of the labor force is the main path of the capital to exit the crisis.
There is a unified strategy! The commitments and the proposed new plans of the E.U. that concern all the member-states and not only the indebted ones, prove that the attack in the near future will escalate. The further drastic reduction of wages and social security contributions is a prerequisite to improve the competitiveness of the Greek capitalist economy. This is the strategic line of the business groups, governments, the IMF and the E.U. It is a strategy that remains the same and never changes either in conditions of development of the economy, or in crisis.
The alienation of workers, the attack on collective agreements and the establishment of individual contracts is a tool to reduce the wages even more, to demolish every labor right that is left.
The individual contracts will bring great sufferings to workers as a whole if they are not repelled. Every worker will be exposed to the appetites of the employers who, with their sole criterion to maximize their profitability, will terrify the workers, blackmail them with the threat of starvation wages; the employers will dismiss workers with no restrictions, will not give compensation benefits, crush benefits and rights.
Individual contracts mean undignified and less than what is necessary to fulfill our needs for health and social security benefits; it means promoting the private sector for health and insurance benefits for those who can afford it.
The capital’s strategy does not differentiate sectors, public or private. In every phase and period it passes bills and acts or keeps them for future use depending on the resistance it meets or the wider plans existing. The measures applied in the public sector, in this period, are directed to work flexibility, attack on permanent forms of employment, on collective contracts and wages, on social security rights.
This strategy defines the response of the working class today and in the future. There is no room for waiting! The attack must be dealt with today; aggressive struggles and demands must exist in every sector and workplace. The workers, together with those who suffer by the policies of the monopolies, must oppose and have their own planning against the strategy of the capital, having as orientation the needs of the working – popular family for full-time and stable work with decent wages, free health care, education and general insurance.
The attack will escalate
The creation of a new, permanent mechanism to set the minimum wages, according to which the amount of wages will exclusively depend on whether the persons receiving these wages will decisively contribute to the profiteering of the capital, willalso contribute to the new crush of wages.It will be a timeless tool for the reduction of wages and the price of labor force in total, that whichever government is in power will keep it in its hands as a mechanism of exploitation and impoverishment of workers.
Until today, the National General Collective Labor Contract determined the amount of the minimum wage and other benefits to workers (e.g. social security rights, pensions etc.) and it was the basis to calculate wages and other benefits in sectoral agreements. It was the result of the correlation of forces, in the context of the development of the class-oriented struggle. With its abolition and the mechanism of setting the minimum wage the capitalist profits are aimed to be the only factor defining the wages.
The minimum wage has already been reduced by 22% to workers aged over the age of 25 and by 32% to workers under the age of 25 this means that the minimum wage from 751 euros gross, was reduced to 586 and 511 euros gross respectively and the net wage is at 490 and 425 euros respectively, after the deduction of the amount of contributions the workers have to pay to the different Funds. If we also add the reduction in wages due to the measures taken earlier, the reduction of the nominal wages exceeds 45% compared to 2009!
The main argument for this massacre of wages is the high unemployment rates. Their main argument is that with low wages more investments will take place, which will bring new jobs and thus unemployment will be reduced. This view is supported by the GSEE and is accepted by labor organizations where the forces of the Aftonomi Paremvasi (SYRIZA) are the majority, as for example the Federation of Private Sector Employees. They accept the basic line of the big capital, leaving the workers vulnerable to the employers’ blackmails and threats. It is a line of subjugation, since the position of the working family deteriorates; starvation wages are generalized in conditions of acute unemployment.
The previous four-year period has crashed the myth that the reduction of wages and the levelling of the labor rights will contribute to the reduction of unemployment. The sacrifices in wages were accompanied with an explosive increase of unemployment. In any case, workers and unemployed people must jointly demand the satisfaction of their needs, turning their back to the pseudo-dilemma “starvation wages or unemployment”.
Moreover, discussions for the poverty benefits, the minimum guaranteed income are taking place again, trying to abolish even this miserable minimum statutory day-wage.
About the flexibility of labor relations
The liberalization of the labor market means further flexibility of the labor relations. The attack on collective contracts, the refusal of the employers’ organizations to sign new contracts utilizing the weapons they have due to the laws of the government, lead with mathematical precision to individual employment contracts, one day jobs, generalization of job rotation. In May 2013, the majority of the sectoral collective contracts expired. The negative effects will appear in sectors and workplaces sooner or later. Thousands of workers will have to face the blackmail and threat of the employers, wages reductions, reductions and/ or abolition of benefits and allowances.
The first results from the previous measures have already been illustrated. From the official concentrated data of the Labor Inspector Body (SEPE) for 2012 and the new data for 2013 the dramatic aggravation of the position of the working class in our country is illustrated. The sharp increase of unemployment, 1.5 million unemployed people, the 35% of uninsured labor, the data indicating that 1 out of 3 workers is being paid with a delay of one year confirm the poor living conditions of the labor – popular family.
The degree of flexibility enterprises have, for the hours workers are employed weekly or annually, has been further increased, flexible forms of employment have been promoted, the holiday of Sunday and the five-day working week have been under attack and all these happen because of thenew laws. In addition, the minimum resting time has been reduced from 12 to 11 hours; the measures that demanded the beforehand approval of overtime by SEPE in order to protect the workers have been abolished. More specifically, every year the full-time employment contracts are being reduced. Last year they accounted for the 55% of the new contracts, when in 2011 they were 59.7%, in 2010 were 66.9% and in 2009 79%. Respectively, the job rotation contracts with work for some days have been doubled and they are now reaching 10%.
At the same time, there are negative changes when it comes to dismissals; this applies to the reduction of the compensation money for dismissals and for the increase of flexibility for the enterprises, so that they can dismiss workers without facing obstacles of any kind. For example, if a worker is dismissed without prior warning, and he/ she has been working for more than sixteen years, the maximum compensation benefits the worker will receive, has been reduced from 24 to 12 monthly wages. Except from the reduction of the compensation benefits of dismissals, the warning time and the restrictions on collective dismissals have also been reduced.
They already prepare new measures for the full liberalizationof dismissals; they have as their first target a new blow at compensation benefits so that they will facilitate employers to dismiss workers, attacking the full-time and stable work.
Nobody should be alone against the intensification of the attack
PAME had warned everybody, from the start and during the application of the measures that if a powerful, militant, popular wall will not be erected in sectors and workplaces, the attack will not have an end. The development they talk about is not about the people. It is a development of the capital and its profits, thus it is a brutal, antipopular, inhumane development. It is a development that requires the misery and poverty of the vast majority of people; it requires work – slavery with starvation wages, work without rights until a very old age.
The attack on wages and on whatever rights left will continue unceasingly. The figures confirm that the framework of intensity of capital profiteering is rapidly created so that it will face the crisis and make investments.
The organization of the struggle, the defense of contracts, the resistance to the extension of flexibility and the reduction of wages is the only road to face the attack of capital and government. The suspension of this course is today the first task of the trade unions and workers.
PAME has clearly called upon the workers not to surrender. PAME has called them to struggle for Collective Contracts with rights that will satisfy their needs, with decent wages and rights according to our needs.
PAME has already submitted a complete proposal for the National General Collective Labor Contract for 2014. It demands the reinstatement of the minimum wage at 751 euros for all, without discriminations based on age, as a baseline for discussion and negotiation for increases, combined with other demands, such as the abolition of the taxes and the head-fines, exclusively free Health, Welfare, Education etc.
To this direction all the forces, trade unions, federations, regional trade union centers must coordinate so that the struggle for wages and collective contracts will become the case of all workers in order for the attack of the employers – government to be restrained.
The workers have only one answer facing this development. To join their trade unions, in the sectors, to escalate their class-oriented and organized struggle, paving the way for radical changes in the level of economy and society.