Stop the coup: collective labour agreements now!

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"We, the people who take this initiative and sign the following document, address an appeal of solidarity to the people of Europe. We need your support to achieve an adoption of a law for the protection of workers’ rights through the effective restoration of collective agreements, by the Greek Parliament. This initiative will work openly and inclusive. Anyone who really wants to contribute to this campaign is welcomed. The only pre-requisite is the agreement for the essential restoration of the collective bargaining system. Our aim is to create a pan-European pressure in order to stop this coup of institutions that do not allow the adoption of such a law."

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The financial crisis has transformed itself into a generalized attack on labour rights. The neo-liberal forces have managed to make use of the crisis as an opportunity for their aggressive plans. We are now facing a generalized deregulation of labour relations; a wealth and power redistribution process in favor of capital and against labour.

In order to tackle the root cause of the problem, we need to understand a basic contradiction: The contradiction between the enormous amounts of wealth produced by today’s societies and the rise of inequalities. In our point of view, getting out of the crisis entails reducing these inequalities and reversing the policies of labour devaluation, in a word, redistributing power and wealth in favor of the labour.
In Greece, the neoliberal policies have managed to destroy labour rights. The numbers illustrating the current situation show the magnitude of the problem. The abolition of collective bargaining led to wage cuts of up to 40%. Nearly one in three workers in the private sector is paid a net salary of 300 euros (up to 440 euros gross), being engaged in flexible forms of employment (part-time and outsourced employment, job rotation, etc.).

To this day, the salary received by 45% of employees is below the 751 euro that was the minimum wage limit before the violent reduction of minimum wages by law. By 2012 this figure was only 17% including the full-time minimum wages and part-time employment. There are estimates according to which workers involved in “black" / undeclared employment, add up to several hundred thousand. In general, labour violations have increased in immeasurable levels, making compliance of businesses with the labour law an exception. At the same time, a high percentage of workers in the private sector, are paid with up to twelve months delay, while the number of the unemployed reaches 1.5 million.

Facing a situation like this, we are not looking for the knight in shining armor coming to the rescue. We know that our dignity can only be earned through social struggles and organization. We fight to restore the right to collective labour agreements, so that workers can organize and claim a life in dignity; to eliminate all regulations dictated by the memorandum concerning collective agreements and arbitration procedures that opened the door to a generalized deregulation of wages 80% of which is a result of individual contracts. Depriving a country from its right to establish collective bargaining touches upon an issue that concerns all European workers: that of democracy itself. The coup of the Institutions must be reversed. The fight of the Greek workers for collective labour agreements is a fight common to all European workers for decent work, labor rights and a life of dignity.