The Immediate Demands of the Greek Working Class

Throughout the previous period, PAME, the class-conscious movement, was at the forefront of the struggle against capital’s attack on labor and popular rights.  We will continue in the same direction, because the problems and factors that led the vast majority of the people to poverty, misery, and the loss of rights and conquests are still here.

Our enemy is still here!  The business groups, industrialists, ship owners, hotel owners, shopping mall owners, all of them, along with their governments and the EU, placed the consequences of the crisis and the debt on the backs of the people, and they continue to become richer over the suffering and misery of the overwhelming majority of the people.

The enemy did not leave with the change of government.  Using this change, the enemy remains here, ready and equipped.  The best wishes and compliments from representatives of big capital to the new government reflect its commitment to new privileges, to a different mixture of capitalist management that will help them emerge from the crisis.  They want to consolidate this entire anti-labor arsenal that has been created, so they can, in conditions of capitalist recovery, neutralize the militant, demanding voices of workers.  A key pillar of the new management is that we learn to live with less, to be satisfied with surviving on crumbs, as the new Finance Minister advocated with his proposition of a “frugal life.”

The new ministers’ declarations that support “strong entrepreneurship” and that speak of gradual restoration of the losses in accordance with “the growth of the economy and society” reveal their basic positions, which are carefully hidden behind communication tricks.

In all sectors, the employers’ offensive remains and is even intensified.  Layoffs, unemployment, predominance of flexible labor relations, unacceptable “employment programs,” the smashing of wages in every way continue to exist with a single goal: to continually reduce the “labor cost,” so as to enrich and multiply the profits of the big business groups.

As long as monopolies and big business groups have the economy and the power in their hands, the labor-popular movement must be on permanent alert, ready for struggle — struggle, so as to recover our losses and to enforce the fulfillment of the contemporary needs of the working class.

Those who argue, through their statements and their practical positions, that there are common interests between capital and labor and who call for interclass cohesion between them lie.  It is mockery and deception for someone to claim that workers can hope for relief and improvement in their lives while the profits and interests of industrialists, big hotel owners, bankers, and ship owners remain intact.

The working class and its movement has voiced its demands in the past through powerful, militant, and collective mass struggles in industries and workplaces.  These demands are summarized in the demand:

Recovery of All Losses —
 We Will Not Live on Crumbs!

We move forward for wage raises everywhere!

  • Signing of a National General Collective Agreement re-establishing €751 for those who are paid the minimum wage, as the minimum basis for increases in minimum wages.
  • No worker to be paid under €751.
  • Abolition of the disgrace of the miserable €586 and €511 hunger wages.
  • Return of the lower sectoral wages to pre-2009 levels.
  • No worker without a collective agreement.  Put an end to the modern guillotine of individual contracts.
  • Abolish immediately all anti-labor laws that destroy collective agreements.  Universalization and obligatory enforcement of collective agreements.  Application of the after effect of a collective agreement without any time limit until the signing of a new collective agreement.  Elimination of the right of individual employers to sign contracts with wages below sectoral collective agreements.
  • Reinstate the collective agreement for municipal employees.  Collective agreements in all branches of the public sector and restoration of their wages to pre-crisis levels and re-establishment of the 13th and 14th salaries.
  • Restore stable labor relations.  Repeal laws that promote and enhance flexible work relations.
  • “No” to the liberalization of opening hours.  “No” to the abolition of Sunday as a day off.  7 hours a day, 5 days a week, a 35-hour workweek.
  • Internships for students with full pay and full labor, insurance, and pension rights.

Defend and extend insurance and pension rights.  Full restoration of the losses in pensions and lump sum payments.

  • Repeal all anti-insurance-rights laws and all applicable laws that destroyed Social Security and pensions, to bring an end to the mechanisms that reduce pensions by 2015.
  • Immediate recovery of losses, restoring the 13th and 14th pension payments.
  • Full state guarantee for all pensions and benefits.
  • The state and big capital to cover all immediate needs of all insurance funds.
  • Increase the basic pension of €486 to €600.
  • No worker without insurance.
  • Restoration of the family benefits and other benefits of the Employment Agency (OAED) that were cut.

Immediate and substantial protection measures for the unemployed and their families.

  • Immediate coverage for all the unemployed for the whole period of unemployment.
  • Increase the unemployment benefit to €600.
  • The period of unemployment to be recognized as pensionable service without charge for the unemployed, with the costs to be borne by the state and employers.
  • Full and free medical care for the unemployed themselves and their families unconditionally.
  • Rent subsidy for the period of unemployment, food support, clothing, school supplies, plumbing, heating oil by a state network for the unemployed and low-income workers.
  • Free public transport for all the unemployed.
  • No electricity, water, or landline telephone disconnection for the unemployed and unpaid workers.
  • Suspension of all financial obligations to banks and the state.
  • Cancellation of debt interest.
  • Stop sweatshop employment programs.
  • Stop the vile regime of rented workers.  Shut down the modern slave trades of temporary agencies immediately.  Repeal the KOINSEP creation law.
  • Restore or create employment in the public and broader public sectors for all laid-off workers, without detrimental change in labor and wage rights.
  • Abolish all changes providing for increased layoff limits and reduced compensations.

Relief of working-class families from extreme taxation.

  • No privatization, no transfer of public social services and organizations to business groups.
  • No to overtaxing.  Abolish the ENFIA property tax and the so-called “solidarity tax.”  Tax big capital at 45%.
  • Immediate freeze of prices of all products and services and abolition of the VAT with a corresponding price reduction in all types of broad popular consumption; removal of tolls; a 50% reduction in electricity, telecommunication, and water tariffs.
  • Abolition of the compound interest on all loans; prohibition of auctions of primary and secondary residences.
  • Stop all taxation through electricity bills immediately.  Stop the seizure and auction of homes of working people.  Abolish taxes on oil and gas.
  • Re-establishment of the Workers’ Housing Organization, with all its powers.  Restart the construction projects of the Workers’ Housing Organization.

Exclusively public free healthcare and education.

  • A single, universal, exclusively public, and free modern healthcare system — social welfare, preventive healthcare, and emergency healthcare for everyone, funded exclusively by the state.
  • Abolish any payment for health services.  Abolish the €5 hospital admission fee and the €1 per-prescription fee.
  • Essential health and safety protection measures at work, with corresponding infrastructure, public-sector occupational health doctors, occupational safety officers, nurses.
  • “No” to the slaughterhouses of the Disability Assessment and Certification Centers.  Full coverage for all — whatever percentage of disability — for drugs, medical care, technical aids from the state, and unemployment benefits for all disabled unemployed.
  • Free prenatal care for all couples.  Substantial and immediate measures for the protection of motherhood.
  • Exclusively free public education without any business activity.
  • Expand the network of free public nurseries for all children.  Abolition of subsistence kindergartens.
  • Free meals and accommodation for all university students in modern, safe students’ houses.

PAME also supports the demands of the self-employed:

  • Freeze the debts to the Organization of Insurance of the Self Employed (OAEE), the state, banks, and individuals.  Capitalization of debts without additional surcharges and fees.  Prolonged adjustment, with payments in total not exceeding 10% of the disposable income.
  • Decriminalization of debts owed to the OAEE, repeal of the corresponding laws.  Abolition of the KEAO (Center for Collection of Social Security Arrears) for OAEE debts.  Abolition of insurance awareness certification for the OAEE.
  • No seizure of primary residence.  Suspension of commercial property foreclosures, equipment, vehicles, and bank accounts for the self-employed who maintain their businesses.

PAME notes that whoever identifies the interests of workers with corporate profits, whoever puts the commitments to the European Union above the survival and dignity of working people, has crossed over to the other side.  The continuous pursuit of profit requires a disarmed labor movement, workers without rights and unorganized.

No government, no matter what image it presents, can be stronger than the power of the working class when it demands its rights.  Do not give ground to arguments for “wait and see” or illusions that capital will give us back our rights and gains, when in both times of crisis and economic growth it stole the wealth the working class produced.  Inaction and delay create new concessions, new losses, consolidating poverty and misery.

The exploitative system does not change.  It does not become more humane through governmental changes.  Our salvation — a decent life, permanent and steady jobs with full rights — depends on our own action.

To confront poverty and misery, to regain what they have lost, to demand what they need today, the workers have only one way: class solidarity, resolute struggle against capital, and the political parties who serve it.

The first priority must be the reconstruction of the labor-popular movement, the collective decision-making processes of the trade unions, and the adoption of demands against the profits of the monopolies.

All workers must have as a priority the path of struggle; organization in trade unions, workplaces, branches, and neighborhoods is an urgent priority for all workers.  Our strength lies in the unity of the working class, its alliance with the self-employed, poor farmers, the youth, and women.

The Executive Secretariat of PAME (All Workers Militant Front)
January 2015

The text above is a lightly edited version of the English translations provided by PAME Hellas and In Defense of Greek Workers.  Click here for the original Greek text.