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The once almighty Greek trade unionists are gradually losing their influence

23 November 2012 / 22:11:57  GRReporter
2094 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

There has hardly been a day since the beginning of October without a strike, a protest or a work stoppage organized by a trade union in the public sector and sometimes in the private sector.

They are the people who negotiate with the political leaderships of ministries and have been able for decades to obtain various benefits to the salaries of their colleagues: a benefit for engine heating, a benefit for getting to work on time and even a benefit for hand washing.

In recent days, residents in various Greek cities are struggling to walk along the sidewalks because they are filled with waste from overflowing bins. The Greeks are familiar with this particular type of strike as municipal workers use it every year at this time as a means of pressure in order for their various demands to be met. However, things are different at present - unionists believe that the 'available' regime will lead to layoffs and so, some of them are not hesitation to threaten that they are considering the option of stopping funerals.

Being a trade unionist in Greece is like an occupation. The people who have undertaken union activities over the years effectively have ceased to work in violation of the law that entitles them to a "union leave" for several days each month. However, they continue to receive salaries every month, and many of the members of big trade unions, in their capacity of employee representatives, are on the boards of various companies. Until a little while ago, they enjoyed union pensions in addition to the main ones. And all this - for their union activity.

Recently, however, the influence of the once highly influential "workers' fathers" has declined. Whether it is because the two main parties ever (especially PASOK), which created and raised them, do not support them any longer, or because employees have just realized that this system has no future, unionists have lost their influence. During the last few Pan-Hellenic strikes, the rate of participation of public workers was very low. It is worth noting the complete failure of the strike the union of the employees of the Public Power Corporation, GENOP DEI, had announced, which involved only 3% of the employees. The video shows how a trade unionist from the municipality of Trikala is trying to force three female employees to leave their jobs, despite their reluctance to strike. He is sparing no words, insulting them and said several times that they would go out of the office, even against their will.

As for the private sector, strikes have always been more words than actions, with the exception of companies where the PAME union of the Communist Party is the strongest.

However, a large number of unionists knew which way the wind is blowing and shifted to the political force that is promising to keep the vicious system: SYRIZA. For example, the media published the pictures of the chairman of the GENOP-DEI trade union and an ardent member of PASOK once, Nikos Fotopoulos with Alexis Tsipras.

Deputies from the main opposition party attend all protests and strikes justifying in full the impression, that SYRIZA is "embracing" the system created by the governments of the Socialists and that it is turning into a new PASOK.

For the time being, the most active union leadership seems to be that of the municipal workers, which did not prevent the attack on the German consul in Thessaloniki but then, tried to hide behind flimsy statements. Time will tell whether and when this vicious form of unionism will fade. Until then, we will be awaiting the next performance of the theatrical troupe of the union of municipal workers.

Tags: PoliticsTrade unionsStrikesParties
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