January 18, 2012
A truly major and tough strike against the employers was organized on Tuesday 17th of January by the three Labour Centres in the wider Athens region after the exertion of a great deal of pressure by PAME’s forces and also in one of the country’s other large cities Volos, where the strike was called by the base-level unions at the initiative of PAME’s forces. The aim of the strike was for the working class to respond to the barrage of anti-worker measures which it is receiving from the government of the black front, the coalition of government of PASOK, ND, LAOS and the Troika with the measures to make labour relations more flexible, the plans for the further reduction of salaries by 150-200 euros, the abolition of seasonal bonuses in the private sector, the individualization of social insurance based on performance, privatizations, the savage taxation through the head-taxes which have brought families from the working class and popular strata to their knees,sending hundreds of thousands of families into destitution, soup kitchens, homelessness. It is indicative that thousands of families have not paid the head-tax which came with the electricity bill and that the government started from yesterday to send teams to cut the electricity supply to families from the popular strata.
It was no accident that the strike coincided with the arrival of the Troika’s delegation in Greece to elaborate jointly with the government the strengthening of the anti-worker offensive to the benefit of capital. It is characteristic that in a matter of a few weeks the employers have been gifted with new subsidies, privileges, with the provocative increase in the number of subsidized businesses and the creation of industrial zones where now by law there will be a complete immunity for capital and the salaries of the workers will literally be tips, at the same time the ship-owners acquired new privileges with the full liberalization which they impose via the abolition of the cabotage.
This strike as well as its preparation had a further special contribution as it took place in solidarity with the striking steel-workers. And in the two cities where the strike was organized, the atmosphere was provided by the steelworkers of “Greek Steelworks”, all the three factories of which were closed by the strike. This was preceded by the strike on the 12/ 1 in the region Volos, in the metal sector, which opened a second front exerting as much pressure as possible on the industrialist who has carried out over 65 dismissals in “Greek Steelworks”. The striking workers in the Athens factory and their trade union, which belongs to PAME, remain unbowed for 80 days while the noose is tightening around the industrialist-owner of the company, as yesterday’s strike was the second in 5 days. Up to now the industrialist Manessis has covered his losses from the long strike in the Athens factory by doubling production in the other two factories.
The metalworkers in Volos along with all the class oriented forces in the region fought in a hard battle and won; organized and determined against an organized mechanism which comprised of policemen (the police director in the wider region of Volos demanded that the strikers declare their names), trade union bureaucrats, strike breaking mechanisms, MPs of the bourgeois parties and the local media which claimed that “PAME wants to close down the factories”.
On 12th January it was the first time after 24 years that all machines in the compound of the Greek Steelworks in Volos stopped working. This was repeated on Tuesday 17th of January.
The employers were so furious that during the second strike they trapped in the factory a shift of workers and ordered some of their lackeys to hold a banner with slogans against PAME. Despite the activation of this strikebreaking mechanism the industrialist did not manage to make the factory operate.
We have to mention that GSEE, the Athens Labour Centre (EKA) and the compromised reformist leaderships participated in the strike hypocritically at the last minute. Nevertheless, it was the same trade union forces of PASOK and the ND which opposed the strike in the other two factories of Greek Steelworks, those who for 80 days have not set foot in the factory of the Greek Steelworks, while on the day after the strike they stated that they will participate in the social dialogue together with the government and the industrialists in order to bargain over how much the workers will lose.
The stance of the trade-unionist, who represents SYNASPISMOS (a party in the presidium of the ELP) in the trade union that called the strike in Volos, was also characteristic. He did not vote for the strike but voted blank and made the provocative statement that “strikes benefit the employers”. With their stance –they actually voted against the strike- the opportunists refused the practical solidarity with the heroic 80-day strike of the steel workers despite their opportunistic calls for solidarity. In his question in the Parliament about the “labour cost” the leader of SYN, A. Tsipras accepted the logic of the government (namely that the salary of the worker is a “cost” – a term that justifies the assault of capital against wages, pensions as well as workers’ seasonal bonuses).
PAME organized a large rally in Athens where the president of the union in the Greek Steelworks G. Sifonios and other cadre of PAME spoke. The class oriented forces declared their determination to wage an unwavering class struggle, to continue the struggle in the Greek Steelworks, to refuse any participation in the so called “social dialogues”, to organize “garrisons” in every working class neighbourhood so as to prevent the cutting off of electricity to any family from the working class and popular strata and to escalate the struggle for a new general strike.