Please find a message below from the Greek steelworkers who have been on strike since October last year. Many of them are affiliated to the Communist-aligned confederation PAME, who have produced this video. It is in Greek, but you can activate English …

Walton Pantland

Please find a message below from the Greek steelworkers who have been on strike since October last year. Many of them are affiliated to the Communist-aligned confederation PAME, who have produced this video. It is in Greek, but you can activate English subtitles by clicking CC (bottom right of player). The video gives a real flavour of the steelworkers’ struggle.

Colleague metalworkers and workers of the entire working class,

The strike of the steelworkers of Helliniki Halyvourgia at Aspropyrgos in Athens, started in early October 2011, when the employer Mr Manessis demanded from the union to accept a reduction of working hours, namely a five-hour workday and a five-day working week for four months, due to the crisis, as he said.

Our union called for a general assembly of its members, which was held in full quorum. In this general assembly the employer’s demand was rejected unanimously by all workers, because it would entail the following consequences:

a) 38%-45% wage cuts for all workers,

b) the abolition of the Collective Contract, since the Union and all the workers were asked to sign that they accept to change the Collective Contract,

c) the employer refused to guarantee that after the four months period the workers would regain their previous eight hour workday.

Thereupon, on October 20th, we mailed our negative response to the company.

The company responded on November 1st by sacking 34 workers out of a total of 379 workers.

Our reaction was immediate. Twenty minutes after the first layoff was announced, we protested in front of the factory’s gate and we started implementing the resolutions of the union’s general assembly.

From that time on, every month the employer fires 5% of the factory’s workers, which is illegal, since we are in 24 hour repeated strikes.

Today, after 251 days of strike, we count 120 layoffs. We continue our struggle until a solution for the reinstatement of all fired workers is reached.

Our struggle has been supported by the working class all over the world with material, moral and financial solidarity to help the strikers withstand.

This solidarity has enabled us to offer, on a weekly basis, financial support to the strikers so that they can continue their struggle.

Until now, the employer is intransigent and rejects the reinstatement of the fired workers.

We, on the other hand, have declared that we consider all of ourselves as having being fired.

We refuse to work for 500-600 Euros in a heavy industry with fatal accidents, severe burns and terminal diseases. We shall never become slaves to the employers. We shall never become what the Memoranda and Greece’s creditors anticipate.

What the steelworkers are doing today should inspire every worker, because no one will escape this system of misery for the workers and profitability for the employers.

Dear metalworkers and workers of the entire working class,

The struggle is hard and the 251 days of strike have impoverished the strikers and their families. But they have also steeled their determination in the face of the company’s intransigence to reinstate their fired colleagues.

Therefore, the strikers continue their struggle with the material and financial help of the other workers in order to withstand.

Here in Greece, we are just the beginning. Wage cuts, layoffs and the workers’ impoverishment will soon be implemented all over Europe.

Solidarity is the workers’ weapon.

We continue vigorously to meet our just demands, which are

1. Collective Contracts for everyone

2. Reinstatement of the fired workers

3. Humane conditions of work

Nikolaos Charokopos

Vice-president of Helliniki Halyvourgia Workers’ Union “The Unity”

 


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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