I would like to salute your Congress, on behalf of the Greek workers in a country where the Government, the European TROIKA and the IMF have turned the workers, the people and the youth to laboratory animals, on which they apply old and new hars …

Stathis Trachanatzis Greece,


2014-10-16 13 31 05

I would like to salute your Congress, on behalf of the Greek workers in a country where the Government, the European TROIKA and the IMF have turned the workers, the people and the youth to laboratory animals, on which they apply old and new harsh neoliberal policies.

In Greece, through the neoliberal policies implemented in the last 5 years, took place the largest redistribution of wealth and income between the rich and the poor, ever made in the world. All this was done supposedly in the name of development but development didn’t come and unemployment rose close to 30%. Unemployment among young people exceeded 50%.

Policies, which have reduced wages and purchasing power of workers, labor and insurance rights, limited the ability of millions of Greeks in social goods of health, education and a range of social services.

The success story of ND and PASOK government brought the average real wage in 750 to 800 euros gross, from 1267.51 gross that was in 2009. This Government policy over the last 4 years has created a nightmarish image and reality on workers’ incomes. With the drop in wages in the private sector by 18% in the period 2010-2013, the average earnings of workers tend to be lower even than the average earnings of retirees – with everything it implies of course for the next day of IKA (Social Insurance Institute) and other insurance funds which are affected by both the unemployment and the haircut of bonds. If we calculate from 2009 until today, the average reduction is over 23%. For workers aged less than 25 years old the decrease of real wages is over 32%.

The purchasing power of workers has reached the levels of 1980, as it is pointed out in the annual survey of INE GSEE (Labor Institute of General Confederation of Greek Workers) –ADEDY (Civil Servants’ Confederation). The wages of the 39,3% of the workers in the private sector (629.895 employees) are lower than 750 euros per month. The relevant figure for 2012 was 31.1% (440.423 employees) and for 2011 just 20.5% (306.861 employees).

These wages are gross. If we calculate taxes and insurance contributions, it is shown that four out of ten received less than 630 euros per month at the end of 2013.

It should be pointed out that the above numbers are not representing the construction sector, of which the average monthly wages were even lower and consequently influencing allocations accordingly. Moreover we shouldn’t forget that with the current “armory” that the enterprises have, after the laws that have been voted in recent years for labor relations, banning of collective bargaining, they have all the necessary institutional and legal tools for an even greater reduction in salaries and wages. All these are used by the enterprises with the excuse of the crisis, even if they have no real problem.

The 40 and more general strikes that were made in the last 5 years in Greece failed to stop this disaster and for this a large portion of the leadership of the trade union movement in Greece has responsibility.

We know that the government at your country also wants the workers without any rights “exempt” from their conquests, as well as “shock-therapy” for the economy and the society. And all these were asked by your government one day in September after the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls assured the German “counterparts” of his “love” for the business and entrepreneurship.

Do not accept the exhortation of the main employer’s organization in France, Medef, supporting that in order to combat the unemployment and to achieve development should be repealed the working week of 35 hours, increase (again) the age of retirement and reduce the minimum wage. We say clearly, we are confident that the positions of Medef, which asked indirectly from the government of President Hollande to adopt its … “recommendations”, will not help the second largest economy in Europe to create one million job positions in the next five years.

On the contrary, we assure you, from our own experience, that both the unemployment and the insecurity of workers will increase.

Biggest flexibility in working patterns will not help the reduction of the unemployment, will simply make the life of French workers more difficult and will further reduce the income of workers.

The repeal of the 35-hour, the detour by the employers of the law on minimum monthly salary of 1145, the removal of two of the 11 public holidays, the revision of the system of unemployment benefits will not stimulate the economy of France, will only boost business profits and make poor the French workers. Also lifting the ban of shale gas mining in France (fracking) can cause environmental problems.

We must change the agenda in all countries of Europe. To contribute in order to bring to the center of the European policy the work, the solidarity and the democracy. To give the battle not only at national level. We must build a strong European workers’ movement to change the European policy. To claim the change of the role of the European Central Bank, which should not only fight inflation but to support the economy and the employment. To claim the recovery of investments in each country, which means to give a great battle at European level.

With these thoughts I would like to wish the best of luck in your Conference and mostly in your fights, fights that take place this time in many countries of the European Union. The fight is common and at the end will be victorious for employees.

This is Stathis’ speech to Congress CGT  in Paris held from 14-16 of October 2014. 

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Stathis Trachanatzis

Stathis Trachanatzis is General Secretary of Athens Labor Union, responsible for International Relations of META.

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