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Greek trade unions prepare for general strike

By staff |
December 2, 2015
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Greek poster promoting the Dec. 3 general strike.
Greek poster promoting the Dec. 3 general strike. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Athens, Greece - A delegation of U.S. trade union activists in Greece for a seminar organized by the World Federation of Trade Unions met with leaders of PAME, the All Workers Militant Front, on Nov. 30. PAME, which represents more than 800,000 workers throughout Greece, was founded in 1999 in order to unite all workers and unions who want to fight for the betterment of the working class rather than making peace with the bosses.

Nikolas Theodorakis, International Secretary of PAME, told the U.S. delegation that the trade union movement has two choices: they can try to improve the situation of the working class by having a better relationship with employers, or they can choose to fight the employers. "In every country, whether the economy is improving or worsening, the attack on workers is expanding. We can respond by being class fighters or by being class collaborators. PAME organizes class fighters."

Theodorakis told the delegation that as the economic crisis in Europe has worsened, particularly in Greece, there are many unions that have advocated for supporting the capitalists, saying that without bosses, there can be no work. The perspective of PAME has been firm: workers should not make sacrifices for capitalist profitability. PAME fights against extreme austerity and anti-union measures that are devastating the Greek population. These include an incredibly high unemployment rate, huge cuts in the public sector, legislation that basically abolishes a minimum wage, and numerous legal challenges to the right to strike.

PAME carried out a successful general strike on Nov. 12 in opposition to austerity measures that have resulted in extreme poverty and unemployment - the youth unemployment rate stands at more than 50%. PAME has called for another general strike on Dec. 3, two days before the government vote on the budget. The strike is in opposition to the following anti-worker measures being proposed by the Greek government:

  • Raising the retirement age to 67
  • Drastic pension cuts, pensions would only be available after 40 years of continuous employment
  • Increased flexible working situations, which is exacerbating the extreme youth unemployment rate
  • Abolishing the employer contribution to health care
  • Abolishing coverage of numerous medical procedures that benefit pregnant women and mothers
  • Drastic cuts to the Social Security (National Health) Plan

The U.S. delegation met with the strike organizing committee, which includes representatives from multiple labor sectors and geographic areas, to hear about the strike demands and organizing effort. The delegates will have the opportunity to see the plans for the general strike to be put into action on Dec. 3.