‘not A Single Sacking – Permanent Jobs For All Workers!’

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‘Stage’ workers from Chalkida, a city in central Greece
‘Stage’ workers from Chalkida, a city in central Greece

‘IT WILL NOT PASS!’

Over 5,000 young Greek workers on so-called ‘training’ schemes in the public sector, demonstrated on Thursday in Athens and in other main cities against a government decision to immediately sack them.

It is estimated that 30 to 40 thousand workers on the so-called ‘stage’ (from the French word for training) cheap-labour schemes are employed in the civil service, local government and state organisations. The social-democratic government is intent to sack them all at once!

In a magnificent and most militant demonstration, thousands of young workers, most of them in their 20s, marched throughout the Athens city centre to the Vouli (Greek parliament) where the issue of the ‘stage’ workers was being debated.

There were delegations from all over Greece. During the demonstration workers kept up shouting anti-government slogans and chanting satirical and ironic verses against the Greek Prime Minister Yiorghos Papandreou.

The most popular slogan was ‘it will not pass!’ – the government decision to sack them all would not be allowed to be implemented. Other slogans were ‘we want proper jobs – not slavery!’ and ‘we want jobs – not unemployment!’

Thousands of placards held up high by marchers read ‘Not a single sacking – permanent jobs for all workers!’

At the rally held earlier, speakers condemned the government decision as ‘unacceptable’ and pledged that they will fight to the end.

Reports from all over Greece were read at the rally, mostly from local government workers from many Greek cities who were carrying out 3-hour stoppages in support of their ‘stage’ brothers and sisters.

Dina Rovithaki, a member of the national ‘stage’ workers co-ordinating committee which organised the rally and demonstration, called for the unity of all workers and a fight to the end.

She said that the next day, ‘stage’ workers were to hold meetings and other mobilisations at their places of work.

The General Secretary of the KKE (Greek Communist Party) Aleka Paparigha spoke at the rally, committing the party to the struggle of the ‘stage’ workers.

But the Stalinist leader failed to call on the Greek workers to take strike action against the government decision to sack all ‘stage’ workers.

After the demonstration, ‘stage’ workers carried out a sit-in outside the Vouli.

Inside, the Minister for Employment Andreas Loverdos repeated the government decision to sack all ‘stage’ workers; he then said that those sacked could take part in a national government held competition sometime time next year to fill the positions that have become vacant due to their sacking!

Two women of different generations, Eleni and Despina, spoke to the News Line outside the Vouli building.

Eleni, a 52-year-old worker at the state-owned racehorse grounds, said that she has been employed on cheap-labour schemes for nearly 20 years.

She was absolutely contemptuous of the trade union bureaucracy and the leaders of GSEE (Greek TUC) and ADEDY (federation of public sector trade unions) who have accepted such schemes as ‘stage’ and have worked along with successive governments to implement them.

Eleni said that it is high time that workers elect a new trade union leadership determined to go all the way to defend workers’ rights.

Despina, in her twenties, is an active trade unionist recently elected to the ADEDY general council where, ‘I have to fight against all these bureaucrats that all they want to do is nothing’, she said.

She was giving out leaflets for a co-ordinating meeting of Athens ‘stage’ workers to be held today, Saturday.

Yiannis, a ‘stage’ worker in his 20s who had come to the demonstration along with a large delegation from western Greece, said he wasn’t sure how things would go.

‘Look at the Piraeus port workers,’ he said; ‘they are fighting for weeks by themselves; we need active support from other trade unions to go forward.’

Chloe and her friends, all in their early twenties, all had come to a demonstration for the first time in their lives.

She said: ‘This government promised that if they got elected there will be proper jobs for all of us; now they say they will sack us all, there will be no jobs for us; they are even worse than the previous conservative government.’

The Revolutionary Marxist League, the Greek Section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, joined the demonstration with their newspaper calling for a general strike against sackings and unemployment and for the overthrow of the social-democratic Papandreou government.

The ‘stage’ workers demonstrations showed that a mass determined anti-government revolutionary movement is building up; a movement made up of young workers organised in trade unions but outside the control of the treacherous trade union bureaucracy.

They will need to build a public sector front against sackings and unemployment and to unite with the older layers who have a lot to offer in experience and strength. Above all there needs to be built a new leadership to smash the government’s class war plans.

The ‘stage’ workers day of action proved to be a very successful step in this direction.

It marks a new phase in the Greek working class’ and youth’s resistance against the social-democratic government who want to force them to pay for the economic crisis.

The ‘stage’ workers’ struggle expresses the determination of a new and undefeated generation to take on both the government and the treacherous trade union leaders.