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Issue #1559      8 August 2012

Greek steelworkers fight on

On Monday July 31, the steelworkers at the Aspropyrgos Steelworks returned to work following an heroic nine-month strike (272 days). They conducted a rally, lifted their fists and held carnations in their hands. They implemented the decision of their 20th General Assembly, which took place on the Saturday. The assembly stated that they would suspend their strike and continue to fight using other forms of struggle.


Steel factory workers shout slogans during a rally in Aspropyrgos.

On Friday July 20, the government attempted to break their strike by using its state forces whose brutal attack included the use of chemicals, beatings and arrests.

The strikers, along with all the members of the trade union board of the “Greek Steelworks” headed by the president of the trade union Giorgos Sifonios entered the gate in a coordinated and organised manner as true winners of the nine-month strike.

Prior to this the employer posed outrageous offensive demands and was backed by riot police forces. He demanded that the workers enter the factory one by one, showing the police their identity cards and waiting for the employer’s permission to enter the territory of the factory.

The decisiveness of the steelworkers forced the employer to yield.

The riot police forces as well as the remaining police forces were withdrawn and the workers entered the factory on their own and headed to their posts applauded and cheered by those present: “this nine-month strike will not be forgotten”. “The steel is hardened by blood and sweat, the steelworkers will not surrender”, “struggle, rupture, overthrow, the steelworkers lead the way”.

The proposal from the board of the trade union to suspend the strike and continue fighting by using other forms of struggle was presented by the president of the board, Giorgos Sifonios and adopted by the vast majority of the assembly.

The report stated: “272 days ago, when Manesis [the owner] blackmailed us forcing us to choose either a five-hour workday or 180 dismissals we held an assembly and unanimously decided to go on strike. We did what every honest, self-esteemed worker and their class should do.

“Our action was rich. We organised 20 General Assemblies of the Union, where we collectively assessed the situation and decided upon our next steps. All the members of our families participated in the struggle, both women and children.

“We fuelled an unprecedented solidarity movement from every corner of Greece and from many countries worldwide. We organised more than 50 activities, meetings, concerts, book presentations, activities for children and women in front of the plant. We celebrated together Christmas, the New Year’s Eve, Carnival and Easter. Through our struggle we became ‘one family’, as workers should be.

“Thousands of workers came to the gates of the ‘Greek Steelworks’ factory, young people, pensioners, pupils, students, workers from all over the world…. All over Greece as well as in tens of cities abroad there were hundreds of meetings and solidarity action.

“Its rich experience and conclusions will be used in future struggles.

“What have we achieved through our struggle? Our struggle put in the forefront the strength and the value of the united class struggle, the greatness and the strength of workers’ solidarity. It demonstrated vividly who produces the wealth and who steals it.

“At the gate of the ‘Greek Steelworks’ factory the clash of the two opposing classes, of the two opposing worlds and civilisations was vividly demonstrated.

“They did not manage to divide us, no matter how hard they have tried, because we worked based on the principle ‘one for all, all for one’. All the state apparatus, the government, the parties of capital, the class judicial system, the mass media, tens of riot police forces’ buses, tens of police cars and hundreds of secret police officers were coordinated in order to protect their boss, Manesis, and to strike a blow against their enemies, the workers, strikers.

“Manesis will soon bring back to the table the demands to change the working hours and the salaries that are defined by our collective agreement. He has withdrawn them temporarily due to the strike.

“We return to work by our own decision and will, in an organised, coordinated manner, holding our heads high.

“We thank from the bottom of our hearts all the workers in Greece and all over the world who for nine months supported our struggle morally and materially. We would especially like to thank PAME (All Workers’ Militant Front) that helped us throughout our struggle, day and night, and will continue supporting us in the future. It supported in practice all our decisions and initiatives, it spread the message of the heroic steelworkers all over Greece and across the world. This is why the opponent slanders it and fights it on a daily basis.

“We return to work with our head held high and continue fighting for the satisfaction of our demands, using other forms of struggle.”

Communist Party of Greece (Abridged) Full text available at inter.kke.gr  

Next article – The attempted US siege of Bolivia

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