By Stathis Trachanatzis
The Government of the Market
The leaders that support the tripartite Greek government are absolutely obedient to the commands of their bosses. They appear in the media as working long hours, even weekends. They give the impression that they work without limits and timetables. Just as they envisage the working present and future of the Greek workers.
The Greek government is implementing the demands of the President of the Association of German Industry (BDI) to turn Greece into a large Special Economic Zone (SEZ) without labour rights and high taxes for the entrepreneurs. A SEZ in the era of the new medievalism. A new chastity belt for the protection of the blessed and holy profits of the private sector.
The dictatorship of the markets and the present tripartite government abolishes even the model of social partnership that entailed, until now, collective bargaining and the signing of collective agreements between the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (HFE) and the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), as a result of the power balance between the forces of labour and those of capital.
Today, the Greek government says that the GSEE and the HFE can still negotiate, but the final word is on the government’s side.
At the same time when the Greek government appropriates the right to collective bargaining, it does everything it can so as to surrender the last public companies to private interests.
It is apparent that one of the major weaknesses of the unions is that they failed to speak about the society and the social goods. They also failed, due to their own weaknesses and particularly in the public companies’ unions, to be convincing toward wider social groups.
In contrast, the HFE, using the usual pressure groups and media that support its agenda, succeeded in persuading large social groups, that otherwise shouldn’t be able to, about the rightness and the fairness of its views, which, however, are strictly confined to the most narrow economic interests of the capitalists.
For this reason, the September 20th 2012 mobilization of the public transport unions was very important, since one of the unions’ central demands was the reduction of the ticket price.
These are the unions that society needs. Unions that speak in the name of the society, that struggle mainly for the citizens’ rights.
Describing something is not the same as experiencing it. Also, experiencing it is different from mediating it.
As for mediation, a great part of the Greek unions and unionists has been very successful in it during the two previous years. They have been very successful in “explaining the phenomena” and in “planning the struggle”. At the wrong time or when it’s too late. They have also become professors in “exchanging opinions” in order to win the political hegemony.
It’s one thing to be fired and another to support those already fired.
It’s one thing going to work with the overcrowded public buses and another not having to do it.
It’s one thing to try to find excuses why mom and dad cannot meet simple everyday family needs and another to feel angry for what is happening to others.
It’s one thing to be unemployed and not having access even to this wonky health service and another to describe or denounce the horrible situation.
Today, there are union leaderships that have locked the doors of the unions and they want to slip the key under the locked door. These unionists have an expiry date. They are consumables. They have completed the dirty work and now they have to go.
Even the 24 hour general strike of the September 26th was the result of the forces of the left. It is of utmost importance to give all our forces in order for our strikes and mobilizations to succeed. We will not give away the unions to those who devalue and discredit it.
We have to block the new austerity by participating in the strikes. We have to create a great chain of support for the public services and institutions that, today, are, more than ever, needed by the workers.
We have to network common actions organized by Labour Centres, federations and unions.
We have to meet in action with the thematic movements that have been emerging the previous period as well as with all those who suffer because of the crisis.
We want and we aim at the occupation of the unions here and now through the enrolment of new members coming from all the desperate people, the Greek precariat, the old and new, created by the austerity, poor. They are the fuel for the unions’ restarting and reestablishment.
Unions that will unite all the workers who today suffer the results of the austerity policies and now have common problems, worries and aims.
Class unions, capable to free the modern slaves from their chains through unifying initiatives and actions.
Unions and unionists that will develop and demonstrate selfless actions every day.
The unions and trade unionists who comment, describe and “clean the mess for others’ without being able to inspire their members to act collectively are now fading.
This autumn, along with the tree leaves, the phonies are also falling.
Stathis Trachanatzis is vice president of Athens Labour Center
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