Greek unions have accepted a strategic defeat through the application of anti-labour policies and the Memorandum over the past five years.

Some of the diseases of Greek trade unionism are the following: bureaucracy, defeatism, self-interest, an obsession with social prostitution, pseudo-revolutionary verbosity, sectarian action, a discrepancy between the leadership and the members, a long term failure to articulate a vision and develop an ideological hegemony of workers, rigidly structured non-innovative movements. These long term weaknesses reached a peak in recent years.

The victory of SYRIZA creates new a new situation. It is a decisive response to the austerity regime imposed by the neoliberal policies of the dominant political and economic forces on the European continent. In fact, it is the first breach of this policy that has been applied dogmatically to a great deal of the world for years.

This new day in Greece, with the pursuit of humanitarian policy, puts people back at the centre of important developments in the most authentic way, and solidarity in the place it deserves, in the everyday life of the country. It is a new day for Greece. As massive demonstrations across Europe indicate, a new day dawned both for Europe and for the whole world. It is a new day for the trade unions too. They are given a great new opportunity.

However, the four-month extension of the programme will not be an easy time to work with diverse activity for the re-establishment of their relation with the workers, as this relationship has been marred over the past few years.

The unions can seal with their actions the end of anti-labour measures and austerity in every workplace, as well as regain what they have already lost.

This would be a continuous process, with conflicts which would not always have a positive outcome – even if the commitments of the new Greek government and European institutions that we have read about in the past few days were clearly more compatible with SYRIZA’s pre-election statements.

The forces of META – the union faction aligned with SYRIZA – need to be found in every workplace, in every industry, in every city and should organize discussions by informing employees about the new era, enabling trade unions to claim rights for workers. Furthermore, META needs to head up joint actions for Southern European trade unions in order to help strengthen workers’ rights and the common front of citizens of Southern Europe.

Trade unions should work to reinstate their lost negotiating ability in every workplace, industry and economy. Moreover, the unions with their actions should enhance the tough and arduous negotiations, so the Greek government would be able to fight against EU Institutions and bodies, after the completion of the four-month extension.

Finally, today it is the right time and an excellent opportunity to work with the trade unions’ movements for the reconstruction of the ideological hegemony of labour forces and trade unions.

– This article was originally published in the journal Dawn

 


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