UNI Europa Regional Secretary meets Greek Ministers and Trade Unions in Athens
Oliver Röthig, UNI Europa Regional Secretary visited Athens. UNI Europa, the European branch of UNI Global Union, the trade union federation representing services sectors, represents 320 trade union organisations and a total of seven million workers in Europe. UNI Europa members in Greece are OTOE, POST, OASE, OME-OTE, POSPERT, OIYE and OSETYP.
On the first day of his visit, he met with the Presidency of the Greek member organisations of UNI-Europa. They exchanged views on the current situation following recent developments and the change of government, as well as on the perspectives of trade union cooperation and solidarity, which had begun at the outbreak of the crisis.
The Greek trade unions presented the enormous difficulties they are still facing in carrying out their activities because of the policies pursued in recent years. From the discussions it emerged that a clear priority is the restoration of collective labour agreements and the instatement of a new labour relations’ framework.
The collapse of labour law and the reduction in jobs led many organisations to face a dramatic drop in membership. The trade unions discussed ways to strengthen the labour movement and to place it once more at the center of policy developments. In this context, it was decided that there will be immediate coordination for the broader cooperation with major European trade unions, members of UNI, given that the exit from the economic and social difficulties faced by the Greek people is of paramount importance for all workers in Europe.
Oliver Röthig, UNI Europa Regional Secretary, then met with the Minister for the Economy, Infrastructure, Marine and Tourism, Mr. Georges Stathakis. The Minister confirmed to the Regional Secretary that they remain positive that a deal will be achieved with the Eurozone and he declared that he is optimistic that space and time will be given to Greece and the government.
The Minister briefed the regional Secretary on the priorities of the new government in the areas of employment and stressed the need to give special emphasis to the humanitarian crisis the country is facing, for the immediate relief of the burdened households. For that purpose, a law on red (high-risk) loans, the protection of primary residence, with special emphasis on easing the burdens of the unemployed and people on low incomes, is ready and submitted. He also stressed that the changes in the banking system will be carried through in full cooperation with the banks, in a mild and transparent manner so that there is no generated friction in the Greek banking system.
"People in Greece took a democratic decision that five years of austerity, hardship and pain have failed. The people chose a new path. The Eurozone must respect that choice" said Oliver Röthig to the Minister.
On the second day of his visit, he met with the Minister of Labour, Mr. Panos Skourletis. The Labour Minister committed to placing collective bargaining and workers' rights at the heart of the economic recovery of the country. "Over the last five years we have witnessed the deregulation of labour relations. For us in the Ministry of Labour, our primary duty is to make legislative and institutional reforms to restore collective bargaining and workers' rights. Not just as it was before austerity, but by giving them an even broader scope. For this reason we are already working towards, and we will be ready in about a month, tabling the relevant bill in Parliament" said the Minister.
To the question by the UNI Europa Regional Secretary on the issue of the functioning of public radio and television and the reintegration of former ERT employees, the Minister committed to tabling the relevant legislative proposal to the Parliament very soon.
"It is encouraging to hear the plans of this government to restore workers' rights and labour law after their violent abolition during the past years. We are confident that what happens here will bring about benefits with a multiplier effect for the whole of Europe" said Oliver Röthig.
At the meetings of the UNI Europa Regional Secretary Oliver Röthig with Government Ministers, present were Mike Sunderland Communications’ responsible at UNI Global Union, Sofia Kanta, OTOE trade unionist and representative of Greek trade unions at the UNI Europa Executive Committee, and Makis Balaouras, former trade unionist, MP of Northern Ilia for SYRIZA.
Watch here a video on UNI Europa's Regional Secretary Oliver Roethig's recent visit to Greece