UNI Europa – Statement Solidarity with Greece

March 2015
UNI Europa and its Greek affiliates are calling for overcoming the humanitarian crisis and the near-complete breakdown of workers’ rights in Greece.
UNI Europa welcomes the plans of the Greek government to give high priority to restoring workers’ rights and in particular collective bargaining. Collective agreements that were unilaterally abolished by employers need to be reinstated. Workers need to get back their contractual rights they lost due to anti-labour legislation enacted over the last 5 years.
We have seen the destruction of the livelihood of vast parts of the Greek people in the course of the crisis and the austerity policy imposed on Greece. We need to combat the high level of poverty and unemployment, especially among young people and women. This is a common European task. As a priority, we need a dedicated aid and investment programme by the EU for Greece, one that brings people back into jobs and ensures decent living and working conditions for all.
The people of Greece have taken a democratic decision that five years of austerity, hardship and pain have failed. They have chosen a new path. Europe must not only respect this choice, the European Union and its member states must support the Greek government in leading the country out of the humanitarian and social crisis. Greece must be given time and space to obtain the financial means to fairly negotiate its debt and to undertake the necessary reforms. A programme bridge until June is a good pathway for achieving this.
It is high-time that the Greek people are no longer faced by the Troika alone. Reforms are necessary but they must be about bringing back prosperity for all, not simply about solving the debt problem of Greece and budgetary balances in other countries. To this end, the EU institutions and the IMF should be joined by the International Labour Organisation to develop together with the Greek government a balanced reform programme: Any reform must go hand-in-hand with close consultation of the social partners – social dialogue is key.
For UNI Europa, the people of Greece made not only a choice for their country. They went ahead for all of us showing that the EU’ austerity approach and anti-union policy has no legitimacy. While the Troika measures enforced upon Greece are at the extreme end, it very much reflects the line taken by the EU Commission and many governments generally: European economic governance promotes decentralisation of collective bargaining. The EU’s better regulation agenda downgrades social Europe. We have to reverse these policies, not only in Greece but throughout Europe.
UNI Europa is concerned about the approach currently taken by the EU and media in many European countries. The focus is on debt repayment and Greece not honouring its obligations combined with derogatory talk about Greek people. Europe must not stand for singling out and undermining a member state with its people, to turning populations against each other. Europe must be about solidarity. Debtors’ prisons have gone out of business centuries ago. The EU cannot bring it back for entire countries.
UNI Europa supports Greek affiliates to rebuild their organisations, not least with a view to re-establishing collective bargaining and defending each workers’ right to decent and fair working conditions.