THE GREEK POSTAL WORKERS SAID NO IN THE PRIVATIZATION OF THE POSTAL OFFICES IN PORTUGAL

A Greek delegation headed by President of POST George Vasilopoulos, in the conference of the World Trade Union UNI held in Portugal was present at the concentration against the privatization of the Portuguese Post in Evora .

The concentration of the postal workers was meant to send a dynamic message for the protection of the public and social character of the Post Office, which the Government wants to privatize depositing even newly a relevant law.

In the delegation of the employees of the Hellenic Post, except the President of POST , also participated the Secretary of International Relations Anthonios Klironomakis , the representative of PAK George Apostolopoulos and the Secretary of DAK Giannis Economou .

Both the Portuguese, and the Greek Posts lay in the orbit of privatization, since the governments of both countries are pressured by Troika through austerity programs and cuts to boost the government’s revenue.

From the rostrum of the UNI Congress the President, George Vassilopoulos, reported in today's very difficult economic and social situation of our country , in the horrific unemployment rates, in the attacks the workers daily face, in the weakening of the structure and functioning of trade union organizations and the many problems the Greek Post and its workers are facing.

He talked about the role that the unions should perform in these difficult conditions and stressed out the necessity of rallying and unity at national and European level as the only way out of the maze of recession and catalysis of institutions, values, rights and conquests.

We give you the whole speech of the President of the Congress of POST UNI.

Dear colleagues,

I am conveying my unionist greetings from all the employees, namely the few employees that have kept their jobs in the last four years in the war zone of Greece!

And I am speaking literally of a war, since history shows us that only during a war period a country:

·        Looses in three years 25% of its GDP

·        Has official unemployment of 27% among the adults and 64% among the young people

·        31% of the population lives below the poverty limit; actually, if we applied the poverty criteria that apply in the countries of the central or northern Europe then the poverty percentage in our country would exceed 60%

Nowadays, an unprecedented attack against the working people is taking place in Greece. The position of the trade unions is so weakened that is difficult to recover; this is done by means of hundreds legislative provisions, which are being scattered through different laws, which fully demolish the institutional framework of labour relations and totally deregulate the labour market.

Under the strangling pressure of the Troika the recent Government’s numerous laws restrict, violate and abolish Collective Labour Bargaining Agreements and their terms. They obstruct the free collective negotiations by encroaching the Hellenic Constitution and the most significant International Treaties.

It is characteristic to report the following:

·        The National General Collective Labour Bargain Agreement, which includes provisions regarding the lowest safety net for all considerations and working conditions, has been violated.

·        In the Public Enterprises, after the state’s intervention, the collective agreements have been violated, the wages have been reduced and the general regulations, which were in force until then, have been abolished – despite the fact that these general regulations had been formed on the basis of collective negotiations lasting for decades.

·      Dismissals are now easier and cheaper for the employers. The employers can unilaterally, or after the consent of the employee, proceed to change full employment contracts into part time contracts or rotation contracts, etc.

·        Social dialog has lost its force and is not taken into consideration any more.

The aforementioned list, which is small enough so that I can respect my time in the conference, is just the tip of the iceberg. The actual extent and consequences of the violent changes cannot be estimated.

Certainly the consequences are tragically serious for the trade unions and their strategic options, since the aforementioned changes:

·        Weaken our institutional role and the very existence of the trade unions, by altering their power of negotiation and by taking away from them their fundamental institutional instruments and guarantees

·        Weaken, in essence, the structure and operation of the trade unions and undermine the collective democratic representation

The case of Greece, and not only Greece, does not only confirm the destructive dynamics of financial capitalism against the society and the real economy.

It also shows how serious is the political deficit of the European Structures.

At the most critical, maybe, time of its history, after the war, Europe, instead of stopping the raid of speculation is oriented towards a more generalized application of this catastrophic recipe.

During the last four years the Hellenic Post has well experienced the consequences of the crisis. In this critical environment we have to face:

·        The over 40% reduction in the post market during the last five years

·        The over 35% reduction of the turnover

·        The decreased wages and salaries, approximately of 40%.

·        The privatization of the Organization, which the Government announced already in 2010

·        The inconsistency of the State in terms of paying compensations for the service costs

·        The threatening and abrupt decrease of the number of jobs and the shrinkage of the Organization’s network, despite the fact that the Hellenic Post remains a global service provider

·        The lack of financing in order to proceed to the required modernization 

Within the frames of this unfavourable environment for the postal services, we, the workers, have to survive.

Dear colleagues

Our trade unions have been bluntly attacked; our power for negotiation, our financing and our prestige at the minds of public opinion are now being redefined and restructured so as to quickly be in a position to participate again in the national and European social dialogue procedures as a reliable and strong interlocutor.

Despite the huge difficulties and the efforts being made to defame and marginalize our work, we remain strong enough. We are in the position to safeguard our structures and to massively motivate our working people.

Despite the efforts against us, it is evident that now the employees trust us more than before since they clearly understand the significance of our existence.

In such an uncertain social and political landscape we see that today the trade unions have become a consistent and comprehensive reference point for the whole society.

This gives us the strength to continue with our tough struggle.

Thank you!