Greek public sector workers on short contracts staged a successful 24-hour national strike last Thursday demanding permanent jobs and full labour rights.
Their struggle was supported by the journalists, technicians and staff of ERT (State Television and Radio Corporation) who also went on a 24-hour strike.
A large percentage of ERT’s workforce is made up of short-contract workers.
Ten days ago the Greek PASOK (social-democratic party) government headed by Yiorghos Papandreou decided to terminate all short contracts, which means that about 60-70,000 workers in the public sector are to lose their jobs by the end of the year.
For years, these workers have been exploited as cheap labour throughout the civil service, local government and state organisations.
Over 1,500 short-contract workers marched through the Athens city centre on the day of the strike. The lead banner declared, ‘Permanent jobs for all short-contract workers with full rights!’
Demonstrators kept up a steady barrage of slogans such as ‘the government talk about profits and losses – we talk about human lives’, and ‘this strike is making history – only victorious will we go back to our work places.’
The march besieged the building of the Ministry for Employment shouting: ‘indefinite struggle is our answer to the centres of power.’
A delegation from the short-contract workers’ National Co-ordinating Committee held a brief meeting with Assistant Minister Dinos Rovlias.
Afterwards, Kostas Plastiras, of the National Committee, told demonstrators that the Minister had nothing to say to them.
Workers then started singing ‘PASOK is here and sacks people’ and decided to march to the Prime Minister’s Ministry (there is such a ministry in Greece) where a delegation met with Minister Haris Paboukis the government’s spokesperson.
Short-contract workers carried out a sit down outside the building, shouting: ‘(Prime Minister) Yiorghos your contract will be terminated!’
After the meeting angry National Committee members told workers that the Minister pretended he had no idea of the issue of the short-contract workers.
The response was a tremendous blast of anti-government slogans as well as against the previous conservative government.
The short-contract workers’ Co-ordinating Committee decided on the spot to draw up a ‘far more militant’ programme of mobilisations for next week.
A large delegation of cleaners employed at the Ministry for the Economy joined the march with their banner which read, ‘325.88 Euro wage – enough is enough! We demand proper and permanent jobs.’