The Greek Prime Minister Lukas Papademos told the trade union leaders of the GSEE (Greek TUC) last Wednesday that wages and all national or sectional labour agreements are ‘on the line’ as Greece faces a ‘disorderly default in March’.
Papademos demanded that the minimum wage must be scrapped and that workers must accept severe wage cuts as part of the ‘reforms’ needed to secure the IMF-EC bailout without which Greece would go bankrupt.
Papademos emphasised that ‘it is my duty to inform you of the country’s real situation’.
He demanded that end-of-the-year wage benefits, as well as other allowances, be scrapped and that he is preparing a new set of labour legislation to get rid of national wage agreements which are protected by law.
Papademos said that the GSEE leaders must come to an agreement with the employers’ association SEV this month as Greece is under pressure from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to carry out reforms that would secure the bailout.
‘Without an agreement with the troika (the IMF, EC and European Central Bank) and the ensuing funding, Greece faces the threat of a disorderly default in March,’ Papademos declared.
In a press conference following the meeting with Papademos, GSEE’s President Yiannis Panagopoulos said that trade union leaders reject Papademos’ demands but he added that ‘we can discuss wage cost issues, we can discuss jobs protection issues, but in no way we can discuss the General National Labour Agreement’.
Thus it is clear that the GSEE bureaucrats accept Papademos’ basic demand that workers must pay for the crisis.
Not so several trade union branches throughout Greece, which have been meeting to demand general strike action for the end of the month and in Athens to prepare for the January 17 one-day strike throughout the capital’s region, including the industrial ports of Piraeus, Elefsina and Lavrio whose Trades Councils have voted for strike action.