Solidarity conference organised by IndustriAll European Trade Union. We are at a conference in Athens, supported by IndustriAll European Trade Union LIVE BLOG 4:30 We are hearing from a representative of the POEM union about the situation at the Skaram …

industrial conference Solidarity conference organised by IndustriAll European Trade Union. We are at a conference in Athens, supported by IndustriAll European Trade Union

LIVE BLOG

4:30 We are hearing from a representative of the POEM union about the situation at the Skaramanga shipyards. The shipyards were privatised in 2001, and are now controlled by a group of German investors.

Workers at Skaramanga were not paid for more than a year due to a conflict between the owner and the Greek government.

On 4th October 2012, they organised an authorised demonstration in front of the Ministry of Defence which was supported by POEM. They asked to meet the Minister but when it became obvious that the Minister was not interested in meeting with them, the workers, desperate and furious, decided to enter the building which led to clashes with the police. Approximately 120 workers were arrested. POEM assumed total responsibility for this event and asked the police to release the workers. This move was accepted by the police and the Attorney General.

As a result of this event, representatives of our Greek affiliate organisation POEM will have to go to court on 1st October 2013. The delegation will join them in solidarity.

3:00. General Secretary of IndustriAll Europe, Ulrich Eckelmann, is speaking. He is outlining the depth of the economic crisis and the need for action, particularly in southern Europe. To get out of the crisis, we need “more, and better, industrial jobs”. He outlines IndustriAll’s investment plan.

Assistant GS of IndustriAll, Kemal Özkan: the trade union movement has watched the events in Greece with great sorrow and with great anger.If we fail in Greece, it’s a failure for the working class of the world. Mr Özkan talks about Bangladesh, “they are trying to make Greece the Bangladesh of Europe”.

The rights of workers are under attack, and Greece is in violation of fundamental ILO conventions on the right to collective bargaining.

Precarious work is the greatest threat to the working class and the trade union movement.

1:30 The delegation is watching the documentary Ruins: Chronicle of an HIV witch-hunt.

11:00 Savvas Robolos is speaking. He is professor of Economic and Social Policy at Padion University, and research director at GSEE federation. He is giving us the numbers behind the crisis, and explaining how the crisis unfolded. For instance, workers in Greece lost €37 billion in wages, which caused domestic demand to collapse. There is disinvestment in the economy, and it will never fully recover, as resources have been lost and depreciated. A similar pattern can be seen in the other countries of southern Europe.

The speaker is comparing the situation in Greece to Chile after the coup. The country’s economy is being dismantled and reconstructed to suit other people. We are living in misery. We face the drama of fascism, of a criminal organisation that kills those it disagrees with. The far right is a result of the crisis.

Conference delegates

Conference delegates

10:30 Evangelos Chantziaras of cement industry union GFWECI, talking about how the industry has suffered, with plants closing and workers forced to take lower wages.

Nikoaos Orfanos of petroleum, refineries, and chemical union PFEPP RCI: “If they do this to us, you will be next!”

Yannis Stefanopoulos of the Panhellenic Metalworkers’ Federation (POEM) is speaking: “Resistance is the only way”. The country’s resources are being sold off. Collective agreements have been torn up, and wages decided unilaterally by the Government and the Troika. The world’s media has focused on the Greek people, accusing them of “laziness”. And yet Greek workers work two ours longer per week than the European average, retire later and have shorter holidays. The collapse of the Greek economy is not the fault of the Greek people. They have been made the scapegoat. Greece is an experiment, a guinea pig in an attempt to move away from a Europe focused on its people, to one focused on profit and corporations. We need to resist this, and we will. We will continue to resist as long as these policies persist.

Mr Stefanopoulos thanks European unions for their solidarity, saying it has allowed them to stay on their feet. We are watching a film about the crisis in Greece, with heavy focus on police repression of protests.

10:00 Michael Vassiliadis, President of IndustriAll European Trade Union is opening the conference and talking about the rise of the right in Greece, and the belated response of the state. Europe-wide solidarity is necessary, and we need to support Greek workers and their unions.


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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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