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Trade unions: The government to withdraw the company agreements draft, even at the last minute!

15 December 2010 / 12:12:14  GRReporter
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The protest outside the Parliament, which took place yesterday and was organized by the union of private employees, turned into a warm up for today’s rally that is expected to bring tens of thousands of people from all over the country. Unions of state companies, rail workers, public transport employees, who organized a 24-hour strike, aviation employees, banking officials, who also were on strike for a day, doctors from state hospitals at the IKA insurance fund, which will work only with emergency staff, took part in the rally. The streets of Athens became a mess again and cars with loudspeakers made propaganda for the Panhellenic strike.

Trade unions leaders that organized the peaceful protest, however, accompanied by the presence of a large police contingent, spoke from the rostrum outside the Parliament.

"We urge the government to withdraw the draft even at the last minute. The government chose to throw the gauntlet to the society, which gave it the power and supported it. We will keep faith with our principles, moral values and peoples’ dreams of their work," said the secretary of the union of rail workers Thanassis Levendis.

"Either we will win together, or we will sink. Salaries and pensions in the public sector were cut last year; age limits for retirement were increased. Those who thought this would be all made a big mistake. Now the turn has come of the private sector – working people’s weak jack. Collective agreements are cancelled and we will have to thank the employers for employing us in a while. The message of the government is that there is no concept of "rights", which is sacrificed in favour of investments. The turn of state companies - transport, schools and hospitals - has also come. There are every day slanders that employees are paid 50 000 and 100 000 euros per year. How is it possible? They said last year that public sector employees are 1 million and cost the state 6 billion euros per year, which turned out to be lies," said Stavros Kutsumbelis - member of the executive committee of ADEDY.

Whatever union leaders say, the evidence against them multiplies. Now there is no doubt that the average salary in the Greek Railway Company before the IMF presence in the country was 6,100 euros per month and that the average monthly income of the people working in the Athens electric train company were over 8,700 euros per month. It is about an electric train which simply didn’t exist in the past two years. The generous "subsidies" that the state has paid to the trade unions in the energy sector are an open secret.

"What happened in Greece has not happened anywhere else in the world. Greek employees are the worst paid, they pay the largest insurances and take the lowest pensions. The government called these employees "lazy," "corrupt," "rich" and the media threw mud on them long time. But this will pay back. We have not squander the money, gentlemen, you made this together with 20 other families who always support you, together with the off-shore companies heads. That’s enough! You want to break the unions but they are becoming stronger than ever," said George Skandaliaris - member of the GSEE.

"With the draft, which was introduced in Parliament last Thursday the government is trying to turn working into slavery for no time, to abolish the contracts applicable for decades, and to ignore labour rights the workers have fought for throughout the 20th century, to reduce once again the salaries of the employees in the state sector while increasing taxes on consumer products by making a gift to those who evade taxes of billions of euros," said Yiannis Doukas from the union of the employees of the state telecommunications company.

Working people expressed their anger against the draft on the introduction of company collective agreements which are expected to be voted on Wednesday evening with slogans like "They are stealing our bread and work and we are opposing this," and "People’s anger. Let’s rebel everywhere."

The streets of the city center remained closed for hours because of the rally which made drivers nervous. The strike of the subway and the rest of the transport facilities completely hindered the movement throughout the city too. The 24-hour strike on Wednesday will involve all employees of private and public sectors, bank employees, port workers, journalists. Taxi drivers will go on a 4-hour strike between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm to participate in the protest too. They are the most profit making from the public transport strike in Athens that lasts four days already.  

The protest of the private employees union GSEE starts at 11.00 am on Pedio tu Areos and then the rally will go to Syntagma Square. The members of the union of the Communist Party of Greece PAME will gather separately at 11.00 am on Omonia Square.

Public transport and trains employees continue their protest against the government's measures with a new 24-hour strike on Thursday.


Tags: NewsSocietyStrikesRail workersState companiesPublic transportBank officials
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