Greek Public Sector Workers Strike! – Against Mass Sackings

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The sacked women cleaners are determined to get their jobs back
The sacked women cleaners are determined to get their jobs back

GREEK public sector workers staged a one-day national strike last Tuesday against the government’s workers’ ‘evaluation’ schemes which are designed to lead to mass sackings of at least ten per cent of the total workforce, a fact admitted by government officials.

The strike was called by the ADEDY (public sector trades unions federation) which organised a rally outside the Greek High Court in Athens where the case of the 595 Finance Ministry sacked women cleaners was to be heard, but the hearing was adjourned to February 2015.

The sacked women cleaners have now reached 140 days and nights at their Centre of Struggle camp outside the Finance Ministry building in central Athens.

Last week an Athens court declared the ADEDY’s ‘participation in the evaluation process strike’ as ‘illegal’. ADEDY immediately recalled the strike and has appealed to the State Court against the Athens court’s decision.

But the Reforms Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared that the government was determined to impose ‘evaluation’ even through the force of public persecutors and of course through the sheer violence of the armed riot police, the state’s praetorian guard.

The Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who heads the two-party coalition government, was meeting up with Chancellor Merkel in Berlin to ask for political support to his waning government.

Samara’s goal is to postpone the new barbaric austerity measures – mass sackings, more wage and pension cuts, hospital sell-offs, attacks on trade union rights – demanded by the troika of EC-IMF-ECB, until next February after the parliamentary vote on a new Head of State, the President of the Greek Republic.

Samaras hopes to convince a group of independent parliamentary deputies to vote for the government’s candidate in the presidential elections and thus avoid a general election where his government will be heavily defeated according to opinion polls.

Last Tuesday morning outside the Greek High Court, guarded by scores of riot police, the sacked women cleaners chanted, ‘in the streets for over a year – we were never frightened by the violence of riot police,’ and ‘sweep away the government – get our jobs back’.

They had staged an all-night vigil on the steps of the High Court with their banners. In the morning they were joined by large contingents of sacked teachers, school guards, ERT (ex-state TV and radio corporation) workers, and threatened-with-the-sack hospital workers and civil servants most of them of the Culture Ministry.

Following a rally, they all marched through central Athens to the sacked women cleaners’ camp at the Finance Ministry building.

The President of the Greek Archaeologists Association (SEA) Olga Sakali marched with the Culture Ministry workers’ contingent and spoke to the News Line.

Sakali said that archaeologists and Culture Ministry staff participated in the strike ‘first of all because we believe in the unity in action and also in solidarity with the struggle of the women cleaners’.

She said her trade union SEA fully supported the ADEDY’s strike and call for total boycott of the ‘evaluation’ procedures. Sakali stated that at the Culture Ministry over 50 per cent of all staff are threatened with the sack through all kinds of legislation and new procedures.

The situation has led to closures of museums and archaeological sites while experienced archaeologists are forced to resign. Sakali said that she and her union had no trust whatsoever to the ADEDY and GSEE (Greek TUC) leadership.

She pointed out that many in her union and in other unions have called for an indefinite general strike to overthrow the government, instead of one day ‘blank shots in the air’. Sakali said that she personally supported such call.

But the ADEDY and the large trade union federation leaders once again refused to mobilise workers even on this one-day protest. The participation in the strike and the march of local government workers, civil servants, university and college staff, teachers, hospital workers was minimal.

Instead, the ADEDY leaders insist on fighting the government’s mass sackings laws and court decisions through appeals to the State Court despite its record of anti-working class rulings.

• The opposition to the planned visit to Australia of Greek fascists, two Golden Dawn Members of the European Parliament, grows by the day, Australian media reported on Wednesday.

Last week, ten of the most influential trade unions in Australia co-signed the statement denouncing Golden Dawn which was signed earlier on this month, as was reported by Neos Kosmos, by the ACTU president Ged Kearney, the president of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia Joe Caputo, the president of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria Bill Papstergiadis and others.

That statement was not signed by the Greek Orthodox Archdioceses of Australia as was reported initially, since the honorary secretary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council Nicholas Pappas signed as an individual.

The Australian Unions wrote to the federal minister of Immigration and Border Protection this week stating that they endorse the statement which called on all Australians to unite and to demonstrate their detestation of the message of hatred and violence being propagated by Golden Dawn.

The unions who join in the condemnation of Golden Dawn are the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, the Communications Workers Unions, the Community and Public Sector Union, the Construction and General Division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Maritime Union of Australia, the National Tertiary Education Union, the National Union of Workers and the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia.

In the meantime, with a public statement issued this week, the Federation of Greek Worker’s Progressive Associations of Australia, comprising ‘Democritus’ in Melbourne, ‘Atlas’ in Sydney, ‘Platon’ in Adelaide and ‘Socrates’ in Newcastle also condemned the planned visit to Australia by ‘Golden Dawn’ Members of the European Parliament sometime next month, and called upon the federal government to refuse entry into Australia to the Golden Dawn MEPs.

‘We Greeks and Cypriot immigrants have experienced and fought racism and discrimination. We do not forget the racist attacks, threats and challenges faced for decades, by all immigrants in this country and in other countries,’ said the Federation of Greek Worker’s Progressive Associations of Australia.

It went on to call upon communities, associations, federations, trade unions and other mass organisations in the country, to take action and not only not allow the Golden Dawn Members of the European Parliament to set foot here in Australia but also to isolate their local representatives politically.

Other organisations who came out publicly recently strongly condemning the planned visit to Australia by Golden Dawn representatives are the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia, the Panepirotic Federation of Australia and the Darebin Ethnic Communities’ Council in Melbourne.