Paradigms of living solidarity from Greece [Part 2]: Steelworkers’ ongoing 100 days – strike

'We woke up' banner from Syntagma Indignants

Today evening, 7th February 2012, the workers of ‘Greek Steelworks’ are holding a concert at the gates of the factory [4]. It is a solidarity concert for their 100 day strike marathon. More than three months ago, seeing their rights diminishing, steelworkers did not hesitate to go on extended strike until their demands are going to be satisfied.

How a determined action has united the hopes of Greek people

Yesterday, February the 6th, there was a festival in Heraklion, the largest city of Crete with more than 20 different renowned groups and artists (Ross Daly, Giorgos Xylouris etc.) [5]. This is just an indication of the innumerable events organized by educators’ associations,trade unions, pupil groups etc. during the 100 day struggle. This decisive, uncompromising strike has sparkled a wave of solidarity from disparate individuals and groups from all across the country [7]. Not to mention, that today there are multiple general strikes in Greece [6].

This strike is at the frontlines of Greek struggle; by many it is perceived as a sign of hope and courage in present times, when people are stripped off their working rights in the name of ‘competitiveness’ and all the ‘remedies’ imposed by IMF and the rest of troika, which Greek people never voted for. Greek democracy, no matter how much has been ravished by clientelism and corruption,  has now been quartered by ‘intangible’ international regimes. For those who do not know, Greece is being ‘represented’ by a prime minister who was never elected. People in Greece feel the oppressive regime every single day, as they are driven to indignation and deprivation.

Strike, the Greek steelworkers’ case and the real acts of living solidarity

While strike, a tactic as ancient as the Pharaoh dynasties, has been often criticized as obsolete or ineffective. However, with numerous major strikes planned for coming weeks in France and Greece, it proves to be still a direct means of workers striving to control their own productive forces.  It is still a powerful tool in the hands of the labour movement, no matter how much labour unions have lost their earlier glory.

It all begun when the management of the steelworks proposed to the workers either to go on a 5 hour/day, 5 days/week working schedule (full time to part time) which will trim the salaries up to 40% or to fire180 workers. After the assembly of the steelworkers there was unanimous decision to reject both proposals. A wave of solidarity soon followed from workers’ unions and social movements from across the country but also from other countries, sparkling courage and determination in the hearts of the workers.

Steelworkers' Strike - Greece 2012

The steelworkers narrate their dramatic experiences in the short documentary ‘At the gates of fire’ (Greek: ‘Στις πύλες της φωτιάς) that you can see below (unfortunately only in Greek, no subs yet). The documentary focuses on workers’ actions but also in the immense support they have received. Citizens have showed their support by providing food, finacial support but also joining demostrations and protests.

There are a lot of moving stories, like an old, retired woman that gave 20 euros to a steelworker for sustaining his fight, although she receives only a 310 euros pension per month. With 310 euros is not easy to leave, this amount of money is hardly enough for her medication.

‘At the gates of fire’ documentary from the group Diakoptes (GR: ‘Διακόπτες’):

Strikes in the global marketplace; the importance of global solidarity

The steelworkers are aware that workers’ rights in Greece and worldwide are undermined by totalitarian economic regimes. They declared that they are going to continue the struggle because they know that if they fall, workers in all sectors in Greece are going to have the same fate. Some people have called for organizational preparations in other sectors as well as by establishing ‘strike committees’, to withstand the generalized obliteration of workers’ rights [1].

While social struggles are still instinctive and undiminished, the situation is more complicated, when seen from a global perspective. In the global marketplace, the ‘competitiveness’ doctrine has essentially debilitated the capacities of workers to defend their rights since transnational corporations may decide to move to another country where workers will accept to work with lower wages and lower standrads of working conditions. The Pirelli tires factory moved from Greece to Turkey, Nokia moved Romania to China [2,3] in an endless list of such cases worldwide.

Nevertheless, with 1 billion hungry and more than half people on earth living in chronic poverty, should we give up the struggle? Even if we know that corporations can migrate, invest and divest uncontrollably, should we accept this situation? I will hold to this beautiful example of solidarity, described above, that can inspire hope, resistance and unity. I will also pinpoint to all those people working to open up alternatives. A strike is an objection to oppressive rule, it is the first step. Working relations can be then redefined, based on common decision-making and inclusiveness to satisfy all peoples’ needs. Global networking and solidarity have never been more needed; it is still global solidarity that can empower workers and peoples of all kinds and professions to withstand the deterioration of their lives.

You can read more about networks of living solidarity in Greece:

  1. Paradigms of living solidarity from Greece [Part 1]: #tutorpool – A people-led network for free education
  2. Food System-Food Crisis? A direct response from ‘Allilegion’ initiative in the heart of Athens

Read about Freegan Kolektiva’s objective to cover positive examples of living alternatives:

Real stories from the epicentre of crisis: Freegan Kolektiva broadcasts solidarity initiatives from Greece

Sources:

[1] Μαράκης E (2012). Το παράδειγμα της Χαλυβουργίας. Retrieved on the 5th of February 2012 from: http://www.agonaskritis.gr/%CF%84%CE%BF-%CF%80%CE%B1%CF%81%CE%AC%CE%B4%CE%B5%CE%B9%CE%B3%CE%BC%CE%B1-%CF%84%CE%B7%CF%82-%CF%87%CE%B1%CE%BB%CF%85%CE%B2%CE%BF%CF%85%CF%81%CE%B3%CE%AF%CE%B1%CF%82/

[2] PPW (2011). Nomadic Capitalism: Nokia moves again –  from Romania to China. Retrieved on the 5th of February 2012 from: http://gabrielaionita.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/nomadic-capitalism-nokia-moves-again-from-romania-to-china/

[3] Taylor A (2011). Anger In Romania After Nokia Announces Factory To Close. Retrieved on the 5th of February 2012 from: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-09-29/europe/30216829_1_nokia-smartphones-feature-phone
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[4] Peiratiko Reportaz (2012). Ελληνική Χαλυβουργία: Συναυλία αλληλεγγύης….Retrieved on the 7th of February 2012 from: http://peiratikoreportaz.blogspot.com/2012/02/6.html

[5] Kinimatorama (2012). Retrieved on the 7th of February 2012 from: http://www.kinimatorama.net/node/19213

[6] kinimatorama (2012). Retrieved on the 7th of February 2012 from: http://www.kinimatorama.net/

[7] Φωκιανάκη Ι (2011). Συμπαράσταση από όλη την Ελλάδα¨45 ημέρες απεργίας στην Χαλυβουργία Ελλάδας. Retrieved on the 7th of February 2012 from: http://www.protothema.gr/greece/article/?aid=165755

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