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Greece needs a Europe for working people

30th April 2016

Greece needs a Europe for working people

Greek dock worker addresses British workers

By Barbara Humphries

The Greece Solidarity Campaign held a meeting at the UNITE headquarters in London on Wednesday 26th April, which was addressed by Giorgos Gogos, Chair of the Piraeus dockers. He spoke about the plans to privatise the port of Piraeus.  This is part of the massive programme of privatisation forced upon the SYRIZA government, by the terms of the Third Memorandum, the austerity programme of the TROIKA, the European Central Bank, European Commission and the International Monetary Fund. Under the terms of this Memorandum, the Greek government is being required to privatise £5 billion of assets, the largest privatisation programme to be carried out anywhere in Europe. The selling off of the terminal ports of Piraeus (Athens)  and Salonika (Northern Greece)  are included in this programme. The Greek trades unions are completely opposed to this privatisation which is due to take place over the summer, as the Chinese company COSCO is poised to take a 51% stake in the port. It already has two containers in Piraeus since 2009 and sees it as an entrance for the transportation of goods from Asia across the European Union.

Greek trades unions say that privatisation will have a negative effect on the wages and conditions of dock workers, but will also affect the livelihoods of many others across the municipality.  COSCO has a poor record of industrial relations and hostility towards small local businesses which use the port. With ferry links so important to connecting the Greek Islands to Athens, both for local people and tourists, it is feared that privatisation will bring about fare increases on a large scale. The campaign against privatisation has been taken out to the local community by the unions.

Giorgos Gogos has addressed port workers in the UK, at Southampton and Felixstowe, appealing for solidarity. He said that the European establishment wanted to bring down SYRIZA, to set an example to other left parties and movements across Europe. Greece cannot be left to fight on alone in this and at its conference in July,  UNITE will discuss a resolution from its London and South-Eastern region to call a conference of trades unions and socialist parties across Europe, to discuss policies for an alternative Europe for working people.

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