Friday, December 22, 2017

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS regarding the current political situation in Greece

Odigitis International Edition
(October 2017) Front Page.
The following article is republished from the International Edition (October 2017) of "Odigitis" monthly, Organ of the CC of the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE).

It is reasonable for a youngster following international developments to wonder about the situation in Greece and to express interest precisely for the last two years that the government of Greece has been assigned to a “left” party. That party (SYRIZA) added 2 new memorandums and additional barbaric measures crashing the rights and conquests of the people. Finally, after so many measures voted, they declare that “we are approaching growth, from which all of us are going to benefit”. However, is it like this? In this article we are trying to give answers about the real situation in Greece, about the way out in favor of the people, the one that KKE proposes, through three questions that often people make. 

In Greece, over the past 2-3 years, a new government with left-wing roots has emerged. Hasn’t it got a difference in the country’s governance ? Isn’t this an opportunity for faster growth in the country, in a more “fair way”?

It is true that the SYRIZA (new socialdemocracy) - ANEL (nationalist party) government is doing everything in order to give its credentials to the Greek bourgeoisie that it is as capable as the previous governments, ND (liberal party) and PASOK (classic socialdemocracy), to take measures in favor of the capital. The famous “we are coming out of the memoranda,” which the government says now, is not true because, on one hand, the Commission will continue for several years and, on the other hand, because all anti-people laws that have been taken in time of memorandums will not be abolished, since they are measures that will urge the bourgeoisie to come out of the crisis, to bring growth to the country.

But is this growth the same with the one that Mr Tsipras (Greek prime minister) and his partners are evangelizing about the working class and the poor strata? We put the question of “growth for whom”. On the one hand, monopoly groups enjoy tax breaks, subsidies, growth measures, free labour, and on the other hand the people are faced with lοw wages and pensions, labour and insurance rights cuts, unemployment, tax increase. All of this is evidence that the growth has a class character. It can be a growth for monopolies or for the people.

The most recent example of this reality is the sinking of a tanker in Piraeus, the largest port in the country, which has led to oil pollution on the coasts of the Saronic Gulf. This government, as well as the previous ones, advertised the port of Piraeus as an “entry gate” and as a “transit hub”, but the situation in ship navigation and the recent pollution of the area highlight government responsibilities, which with ministerial permits give alibi to the shipowners to utilize old ships. At the same time, however, local residents face the tragic consequences of environmental pollution, such as the food problem that has been created.

The KKE also within the Parliament highlighted the issue of the widespread marine pollution caused and asked for the blame to be placed. The party’s organizations in the region were mobilized from the very beginning and supported the mobilization of PAME in Piraeus against the crime committed.

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However, there are sectors where Greece is experiencing significant growth, such as tourism, as evidenced by the millions of tourists been welcomed each year.

Every year the number of tourists is increasing, with data showing that the first half of 2017 an increase of 6.6% compared to last year was recorded, while the tourist season has already been lengthened. It is a fact that benefits particularly a part of the big capital, such as hoteliers, shipowners, because of the ferry tickets, the chains of restaurants and so on. However, for the popular family holidays continue to be a luxury, while a very large proportion of youth works “seasonally” for up to 7 months in hotels, restaurants, most of the time without any day off, staying in the worst accommodation. Millions of tourists literally pass over the bodies of workers in the sector.

The growth of the tourism sector in Greece shows crystal clear that there are “two Greeces”; Greece of luxury, wealth, unforgettable holidays in the most popular islands, and Greece of labor which is either working all year round and cannot afford the summer holiday, or working in the worst conditions in the tourism “industry”, with more and more flexibility in the last years.

During the summer, KNE held a Pan-Hellenic Day of Action for Workers in Food, Tourism and Hotels. With their joint initiative, 36 sectoral and business trade unions organized mobilizations and interventions, focusing on issues of collective labour agreements and protecting the unemployed in parts of the country.

Archive Photo: KKE electoral rally in Athens.

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Isn’t furthering flexibility of labour relations an opportunity to reduce unemployment? The government speaks openly about the fact that it managed to reduce unemployment rates.

This is an argument that the SYRIZA - ANEL government uses to present flexibility and mobility in workplaces as positive. Of course, other bourgeois parties are advocates of this policy, such as ND which, at the time it was in the government, had introduced forms of such employment. Flexibility cannot be considered as a measure of combating unemployment, because the worker is actually consumable by the system and most of the time the salary he gets does not even cover his most basic needs, food and housing. This is a “recycling” of unemployment. The reality actually cancels what the government says, trying to implement the anti-labour measures it took in view of the Memoranda, promoting EU guidelines.

Archive Photo: KNE Odigitis-Festival.
In the summer, Rizospastis published a survey that revealed that businessmen in the tourism industry can utilize 14 different forms of “flexible” work to ensure that their profits are increasing. Capitalists continue to profit from the tourist “fever” experienced by our country, but most of the youth working in this sector are now returning to their homes and facing the unemployment fund, if and when allowed, based on the stamps collected. As for unemployment, it is here and continues to bust amongst the youth with, according to the official Eurostat rates, one in two young people being unemployed (45.5%).

As the flexible forms of employment and unemployment are “privileges” that are more enjoyed by youth, KNE this year at the 43rd KNE - Odigitis Festival on September 21- 23, organized an event in the Spot of Young Workers and Unemployed at the site of the festival, having as a speaker the president of the Food and Tourism Trade Union, on the subject: “From a generation of flexibility, unemployment, exploitation, to become the Generation of Overthrow!”

The KKE is the only party that makes legislative proposals in the Parliament to protect the unemployed, provide decent allowances, provide access to health care and always supports any measure that can even alleviate the people. However, we always point out that this system, which not only generates unemployment but also poverty, wars, exploitation, needs to be and must be overthrown.