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Letter to the Dutch labour unions: STAND ON THE SAME SIDE WITH THE GREEK WORKERS!

On the occasion of the general strike in Greece on February 20th, ReINFORM sent the following letter to the Dutch trade union asking them to declare their support to the struggle of the Greek workers.

Dear friends,

During the last few years, not only the Greek but also the Dutch workers are put under the strain of the disastrous “solution” that has been imposed in Europe to tackle the economic crisis. This “solution” does not include anything else but harsh austerity measures and gradual dismantling of the welfare state.

The results of this “solution” are already visible in Greece: poverty, unemployment at 27.0% (61.7% among the young people), rise of fascism and scandalous violation of working and democratic rights. Rights that have been officially established by European conventions are retracted.

The Greek workers are struggling very hard to defend their rights. The crisis cannot be a reason for violating workers’ rights in any European countries. Furthermore, the violation of rights that have been granted- by European laws in one European country (Greece) – opens the way for the violation of the same rights elsewhere in Europe.

On the 20th October 2011, in view of the EU summit, the three big working union confederations (FNV, CNV, MHP), sent a letter to the PM, Mark Rutte, in which you expressed your concerns about the future of collective labour agreements in Greece and in the rest of Europe. Further than this letter, we need also your active support to the justified demands of the Greek workers. Our belief is that we have to fight all together against the propaganda that divides the European workers into lazy southerners and hard-working northerners. The yellow press and the right-wing politicians exaggerate the existing cultural differences among the European citizens and they cultivate the perception that the Greek and other Southern Europeans are responsible for their situation and therefore they have to endure stoically the consequences of the crisis. In this way, they are trying to make Dutch people accept that giving in their own rights is the most effective approach to deal with the crisis.

None of these is true!

The crisis was not caused by the lazy southerners. The crisis was caused by the unrestrained financial system and the neo-liberal politics in Europe and the rest of the world. Greece was put on the eye of the cyclone because of its position within the EU structure. The crisis in Greece was aggravated by the corrupted political system that has always been standing against the workers and tries to abolish their rights in every possible way.

The abolition of labour rights is not the “solution” to the crisis. The Greek economy, which has been falling down, proves revealingly the contrary. The budget cuts destroy the economy and cause recession, which in turn creates the need for more budget cuts and in this way we end up in an endless negative spiral of austerity. Even the IMF itself admitted recently that the budget cuts are damaging the economy and the “recipe” that has been implemented in Greece is wrong.

Now that the same recipe for the crisis is tested in the Netherlands, we see that Dutch workers get mobilised. The facilitation of dismissals, the expansion of flexible forms of employment, the more expensive health system, the budget cuts in spending for environment and culture, the beneficiary tax regulations for high incomes and large companies and the increase of unemployment concern the people of Northern Europe as much the people of Southern.

The struggle of Dutch workers cannot be separated from the struggle of Greek workers. The more the violation of labour rights continues in Greece, the more easily the same policies will be introduced in the Netherlands. For this reason, we invite Dutch trade unions to show solidarity to the Greek workers’ struggle.

We invite you to send to Dutch workers the message that solidarity is not an outdated idea.

We invite you to send the message that labour rights and welfare state are attacked in all European countries regardless of culture and ruling political party. European workers have a common fate and therefore the struggle for the defence of their rights has to be common as well.

The first solidarity step has been already done! On the 29th of January, the strikers of Athens Metro received a support statement from the trade union of their Dutch colleagues in Amsterdam (ABVAKABO FNV of GVB Amsterdam). This action gave strength to the strikers, who were requisitioned and are now threatened with prosecution due to their mobilisation. We cannot but cheer wholeheartedly for this statement of support and solidarity.

On the 20th of February, the Greek Unions are organising general strike all over Greece asking for:

  • The validation and implementation of Collective Labour Agreements

  • Measures to tackle unemployment

  • The revocation of requisition and all repressive and undemocratic measures

Your support statements are valuable to the Greek workers!


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