A solidarity delegation outside the court in Athens A two year trade union solidarity campaign achieves legal victory for Greek shipbuilders imprisoned for organizing at IndustriALL Global Union affiliate POEM. The Greek metalworkers’ union, POEM, is c …

A solidarity delegation outside the court in Athens

A solidarity delegation outside the court in Athens

A two year trade union solidarity campaign achieves legal victory for Greek shipbuilders imprisoned for organizing at IndustriALL Global Union affiliate POEM.

The Greek metalworkers’ union, POEM, is celebrating a well-earned victory after a verdict was finally handed down in the Skaramanga Shipyard court case on 5 May: 11 of 12 imprisoned trade unionists were set free immediately and one received a 6 month suspended sentence. The verdict came after a two-year struggle by the trade unions supported by a European-wide solidarity campaign. A delegation of representatives from sister organization industriAll European Trade Union and IndustriALL Global Union was in the Athens court on Monday to show our continued support.

The shipbuilding workers in Greece, members of IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliate Panhellenic Metal Workers’ Federation (POEM), have been suffering from the severe attacks by their Government. Victims of severely deteriorating and precarious working conditions for over a year, the workers at the Hellenic Shipyard in Skaramanga went on strike on 4 October 2012. Their jobs were being used as pawns in a dispute between the shipyard operators and the Greek Ministry of Defence for which the site exclusively builds submarines and navy vessels. The shipyard workers’ wages had not been paid for a whole year but the Ministry has remained indifferent to their plight. Clashes with police forces occurred during a subsequent protest action at the Ministry of Defence which led to the arrest of workers.

As a result of the attacks by the Police and the Ministry, charges against 12 trade unionists, including POEM’s President, were filed and their struggle has been carried into the courts. The court hearing took place on 1 October 2013, but the ruling was postponed to 5 May 2014.

In November 2013, the IndustriALL Global Union Action Group on Shipbuilding-shipbreaking adopted a resolution to call to a STOP to the attacks on the shipbuilding workers in Greece and also call for Solidarity with POEM. Led by IndustriAll European Trade Union, IndustriALL Global Union has been joining action to call on the government to drop the charges against Greek trade union activists and to find a fair and just solution for the Skaramanga workers.

Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL Global Union Director for the shipbuilding and shipbreaking sector, who joined the delegation says:

This is a symbolic victory for all Greek workers who has been suffering from the government’s austerity measures. The Greek government must learn from the case to take a new economic and social model that puts people first.

Please also see industriALL European Trade Union website here.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
Author avatar

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.

Read All Articles