Greek Trade Unionists demonstrate outside a Meeting of the Troika The Greek teachers' union OLME, has said it will mobilise its members to continue the fight for public education In the face of the coalition Greek government's adherence to the troika's memoranda - which would see public services damaged, destroyed or privatised - "The Board and the General Assembly of OLME have already decided to develop new protests from the beginning of the new school year, if the "new" government continues to apply the same policies. General Meetings in our sector will take place for this reason throughout the country by 20/9." OLME has been prominent in its campaign to bring about co-ordinated action across the European Union agasint the austerity measures which are decimating education systems and impoverishing public sector workers all over the continent. Pasted below is a detailed analysis from Themis Kostifakis, the General Secretary of OLME: ΤΗΕ NEW SITUATION AFTER THE ELECTIONS IN GREECE AND ΤΗΕ ACTIONS OF THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT BASED ON A TEXT OF THE “COALITION ON THE LEFT” INVOLVED IN OLME (GREEK FEDERATION OF THE SECONDARY PUBLIC EDUCATION TEACHERS) After the elections in Greece has been formed a different political landscape with a decisive impact on the future direction of our country. The optimistic fact that can be a pivot of positive developments in the future is the significant rise of political parties expressing anti-neoliberal and anti-memoranda policies (mainly the SYRIZA party of 27%). The negative fact is the formation of the new, tripartite government; the 2 parties that ruled the country before the elections support the Memorandum (the Right and the Social Democrats) along with a small "left" party. The new government expresses the permanent aspirations of the system of political and economic power in Greece and in Europe. The truth is that the new government remains hostage to the resolute implementation of the memorandum policies. The government's program -a controversial wish list -is only an alibi for the full and complete enforcement of the memorandum looting for the years to come. The most important is that the co-ruling does not guarantee any promises for the labor and the wages, given the fact that everything is set into question and it’s up to troika to accept the renegotiation for changing any specific provisions of the Memoranda. They state that even if the troika doesn’t accept the renegotiation, then they will faithfully implement the relevant intolerable terms of the Memoranda. More specifically:
  • The emerging as a general desire of the government is to prevent further reductions in salaries and pensions and not to impose new taxes, but this will not be realized because, based on the second memorandum signed by the government, there should be taken measures of EUR 12 billion for the biennium 2013-14. There is also a provision in the Memorandum of reducing wages in our country at the wage levels of Bulgaria and Romania (165 to 185 EUR per month). Even if the troika accepts the proposal of the government for biennial prolongation of the program, this amount is impossible to gather without more taxes and further reductions in salaries and pensions. It is sure that the new taxes will be imposed to the employees, since the government program makes no reference to tax the owners of capital, the stock market wealth, the concentrated wealth and the large property.
  • There is no provision in the government program for restoring the salaries of the public sector employees, for the retention of the minimum wage for young people up to 25 years, for restoring the unemployment and the maternity benefits to the pre-abatement levels reduced already by 22%, for the thawing of the wage maturation, for restoring the scalability of the collective agreements and the reinstatement of the most favorable arrangement. Their formulations for the lower guaranteed salary are general and vague. They say nothing about removing the measure of “reserve job” in the public sector.
  • On terms of the planned layoffs of tens of thousands of civil servants of the second Memorandum, they allude to the chapter on the revision of the Memorandum "no further redundancies in the public sector", but in the chapter called "Withdrawal - Merging State Agencies and Entities” they state that "our goal is to prevent permanent staff layoffs, and have significant savings from non-salary operating costs reducing bureaucracy." Moreover, the media supporting the Memorandum have already begun to prepare the public opinion by emphasizing the need for redundancies. Therefore, there will be a problem for hiring contract and permanent teachers, in the same time that the government hasn’t committed to the non dismissal of permanent teachers and public employees given the fact that this decision is also subjected to the Troika.
  • The new government coalition plans to promote the privatization of even profitable public bodies as it is listed in the Memorandum and is already decided by previous governments (ND-PASOK).
  • The Public Education significantly affected by the policies of the memorandum with severe budget cuts, impoverished teachers and reactionary economic and educational changes to come is in danger of absolute collapse. The evaluation of teachers, coupled with the salary and grade advancement, will be punitive toward teachers and will lead to individual contracts of employment and finally in dismissals.
  • The public health system is collapsing. Public hospitals lack essential material and personnel. Workers’ healthcare is dramatically degraded, the financial reserves of insurance funds disappeared through memoranda and PSI. Working people pay from their salaries for a healthcare they don’t have any more. They have to pay for many medicines, which they cannot always find due to artificial lack the system creates. The government is planning to close and privatize hospitals and health services.
  Against this background, it becomes clear that the government guidelines are defined by the Memorandum 2 and the directives coming from Berlin and Brussels serving the interests of bankers and industrialists. The truth is that the new government immediately after the vote of confidence will unleash a wild will attack to workers' rights and public goods. So it is extremely necessary to start immediately rebuilding the trade union movement as part of the wider popular movement. It is necessary the reconstruction of the content of our objectives, our demands and the forms of coiling and fighting in order to be upgraded with the aim of achieving decisive fights which will prevent the application of these measures and will result to the reverse of the unpopular choices, leading to popular victories. The educational sector, a sector with a long tradition of fights, at the beginning of the new school year, in cooperation with all government and private sector employees, shall undertake a diverse program of mobilization to repel the attack of the memorandum government, in defense of the Public free Education, the social goods, the employment, the wage insurance and our rights. Athens, July 2012   PS. The Board and the General Assembly of OLME have already decided to develop new protests from the beginning of the new school year, if the "new" government continues to apply the same policies. General Meetings in our sector will take place for this reason throughout the country by 20/9. Themis Kotsifakis G.S. of OLME