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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 17-05-01

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Work with dignity and prospects the new major goal, PM says in May Day message
  • [02] Achtsioglou announces crackdown on undeclared labour in May Day statement
  • [03] May Day rallies and marches held throughout Greece on Monday

  • [01] Work with dignity and prospects the new major goal, PM says in May Day message

    The new major goal for Greece in the post-memorandum era will be to heal the wounds inflicted on society by the crisis and win back the right to work with dignity and prospects, as well as ensure the return of young people that have sought employment abroad, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a May Day message on Monday.

    "We must give back hope and prospects to Greek society and especially the younger generations," Tsipras said.

    "Just as they were 131 years ago, so today the struggles of the people of labour are struggles for the progress and prosperity of societies. In Chicago in the U.S. in 1886, workers fought for an eight-hour working day and better conditions. Today on a global level, labour is under fire from the hegemony of neoliberalism, which deifies profits and for their sake demands policies to reduce labour cost in every way," he said.

    Among the repercussions of the crisis and the recessionary policies imposed under the memorandums that followed was soaring unemployment, greater insecurity and further flexibility in labour, Tsipras noted. In the last two years, the government has striven to counteract this, to implement labour law and fight undeclared labour, achieving notable results, he added.

    "We successfuly waged the hardest negotiating battle with our lenders, that of restoring collective agreements and normality in labour relations," Tsipras said.

    "Thanks to our alliances on a European, political and trade union level and over the objections of Greece's opposition parties, which called our insistence "obsessive", as well as the remarkable indifference of the local trade union bureaucracy, we succeeded in winning this battle for the workers' benefit," he added.

    Tsipras said the government had fended off "unreasonable" demands to increase the limit for mass dismissals and allow employers to proceed with lockouts, while it would soon restore the principle of extensibility and 'best measures' for sectoral collective labour agreements. At the same time, it was fighting a coordinated battle to fight undeclared labour and to provide all workers with state protection, he said.

    After the completion of the second review, Tsipras added, the government intends to make equitable growth a strategic goal and thus lay the foundations for fighting unemployment and creating new and decently-paid jobs.

    [02] Achtsioglou announces crackdown on undeclared labour in May Day statement

    Labour Minister Efi Achtsioglou underlined the government's determination to crack down on employers flouting labour law, especially the practice of undeclared or underdeclared labour, in a statement to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) for the May Day labour rights' holiday on Monday.

    "The problem is significant but not impossible to overcome. In a recent inspection at a big bank by the Labour Inspection Corps, more than 100 violations relating to underdeclared labour were ascertained and, for the first time, a fine amounting to 1,635,000 euros was imposed. Phenomena of employer lawlessness will not be tolerated," she underlined.

    Achtsioglou also underlined that May Day was a day to remember and honour the fight for labour rights, not a "museum exhibit or a day with no meaning". "Labour May Day is a living reminder that history is written by collective struggles," she said.

    The present government was striving to honour the struggles of the working class in practice, in spite of the current very difficult conditions, she added.

    "From the first moment, [the government] made it a key target to restore collective bargaining in a meaningful way. The issue of labour relations in Greece was made a central issue in the discussion on the future of Europe. All the major European trade unions and progressive political forces aligned themselves with this effort," Achtsioglou pointed out.

    "Equally important, however, is methodical intervention in work spaces against delinquency and lawlessness and to improve the daily life of workers. With coordinated actions we aim to fight undeclared and underdeclared labour. Included in this framework are the targeted joint raids by the Labour Inspection Corps, EFKA, the SDOE financial crimes' squad and the financial police that start today," she announced.

    [03] May Day rallies and marches held throughout Greece on Monday

    Trade unions and organisations marked the May Day labour holiday on Monday with marches and rallies held in cities around Greece, in which they stressed the need to fight for and defend fundamental labour rights rolled back under memorandum policies.

    The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' union federation ADEDY - between them representing the majority of unionised workers in Greece - held a joint rally in Athens' Klafthmonos Square, followed by a march to Parliament.

    Speakers at the event stressed that workers were facing "new harsh and painful measures," which the government was currently preparing to vote for and implement, and which will further increase unemployment and levels of poverty among Greeks.

    GSEE and ADEDY also called on workers to join a 24-hour general strike called on May 17, to be held in collaboration with other groups and organisations, "in order to give a clear answer to the barbaric and dead-end policies."

    Other rallies were also taking place in central Athens to mark May Day, with the participation of trade unions, organisations, student unions and organisations of the extra-Parliamentary Left and anti-authoritarian groups. These gathered outside the National Archaeological Museum and marched toward Parliament.

    A separate march and rally was also held by the PAME trade union group affiliated with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), which gathered in Syntagma Square and was addressed by the Palestinian Authority Ambassador in Athens Marwan Toubassi and PAME Executive Secretariat member Giorgos Perros.

    Rallies and marches to mark May Day were also held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, the second-largest in Greece, with protestors calling for an to poverty, unemployment and austerity policies and demanding jobs with better conditions, decent pay and social and pension rights. The head of the Thessaloniki Labour Centre Panagiotis Tsaraboulidis urged those present to join in efforts over the next two weeks to "block as much as we can the memorandums" and the policy choices of the lenders and the Greek government.

    A separate rally was also organised by PAME in front of the Venizelos statue in Thessaloniki, addressed by PAME Executive Secretariat member Leonidis Stoltidis, followed by a march ending at the crossroads of Egnatia and Venizelos roads, the former location of the Worker's Monument.

    Leftist groups and parties not in Parliament held another rally in Kamara, followed by a march to the centre of Thessaloniki.

    May Day marches and rallies were also held in Patras, the third-largest Greek city, Agrinio, Messolonghi, Pyrgos, Aigio, Nafpaktos, Chania and Iraklio in Crete, and Larisa.


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