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The struggle of the steelworkers is being criminalized! Rebellion against the EU is justified!

documented in Red Flag of the MLPD 17/2014 25 April 2014, p. 17

The steelworkers of Aspropirgos in Greece, who also became known in Germany for their courageous strike in 2011/12, have informed us about the trial being conducted against them by the Greek state:

„On 9 April 2014, 24 steelworkers from Aspropirgos were brought before court in Athens for their heroic nine month-long independent strike against mass dismissals which they led two years ago. They were convicted to up to 23 months prison. Their struggle had received international solidarity.

,With this verdict not we, but the struggle and the strikes of the workers and the struggling people are supposed to be criminalized' said Georgios Sifonios, chairman  of the steelworkers' union in Aspropirgos, welcoming the many colleagues who attended the trial and expressed their solidarity. Outside, in front of the court building were hundreds expressing their solidarity.

Following the verdict people were appalled and called out: 'The terror against the workers and their struggles will not succeed.' Those convicted expressed their thanks for the solidarity and called out: 'The steelworkers will not let their heads hang down, but will continue their struggle. They have not punished us, but the strike instead. That is class jurisdiction.'

The judge Kostandina Polizogopulu called this a law for 'order against illegal violence'. She called the weekly general assemblies, where we took all our decisions together, 'unbidden assemblies'. At such an assembly we took a decision for the strike when they demanded that we work for 500 euros. The judge declared that the collective responsibility for the guilt was to be applied here. She therefore did not even deem it necessary that the defense lawyers of the steelworkers present their statements on the single accusations. This verdict is hostile to the workers and the people and was spoken on the instructions of the government and probably the EU. Every time Merkel comes to Greece something happens. Last time she prompted the violent end of our strike and now this verdict. This is Europe, the Europe of the monopolies.

The lawyer of the steelworkers stated: „The indictment and the verdict according to the principle of collective responsibility is the first step to justify the ideology of fascism. We should not allow this to get through.'

Among the convicted workers is also a steelworker who is in hospital in the intensive care unit. He is unemployed and has no health insurance. The judge Kostandina Polizogopulu convicted three strike leaders, Sifonio, Harokopo and Pavlaki, to 23 months on probation and the rest to 21 months, also on probation. Among the defendants was also a steelworker's wife, Maria Deli, for her support of the strike along with many other women. She was acquitted because she had not been in the strike leadership and so could not be accused of having a collective responsibility. Maria Deli had been arrested during the course of the conflict when the plant was stormed by the task force ,Matt‘. She had tried to protect her husband when a member of the task force attacked him with a club.

The convicted workers have submitted an appeal and were therefore released. You have to know that these verdicts result in all 23 colleagues being legally fired – without compensation and without the right to receive unemployment benefits and health insurance!

With this verdict the dismissal of  Panagiotis Papanikolau, who had promoted the solidarity with Soula in Germany, was also legalized, and he was charged as being a liar.

Panagiotis had been dismissed immediately after the violent suppression of the strike because he had taken sides with the striking workers and their leadership. In addition, he had accused the employers of violating labor and security regulations in the plant. A colleague of his had experienced a severe accident in a fire. Panagiotis had to live for two entire years without wages, unemployment or health insurance. He could not pay his electricity bills, and his family did not have enough to eat.

This verdict is a verdict for the capitalists and aims at maintaining their exploitation and our enslavement. They were only able to get strikebreakers to appear as witnesses. During the trial the broad worldwide solidarity was claimed to be a viscous intrigue of the strike leadership and a party-political struggle of the trade union/movement 'PAME' – the communists.

Panagiotis Katsaros and Papanikolau write: ,We will not allow international solidarity as our strongest weapon to be criminalized. The strikebreakers are being courted, and their treacherous schemes against their class-brothers are claimed to be superior to the justified struggle. We will continue our struggle. No court in the world can condemn our struggle. This struggle is working-class history, an example and further incentive for all workers who are struggling against the monopolies for working-class interests. Our strike shows the path of the working class, which must free itself from the yoke of exploitation and oppression. The slogan 'All of Greece and, in the end, the entire world are Greek steelworkers of Aspropirgos!' – they will not be able to extinguish these flames! We would like to thank all of you whom we got to love and value for your solidarity, and we call upon all workers and their organizations to make this verdict known and to denounce it. We further demand:

Reversal and immediate cancellation of these anti-labor verdicts!  End state repression!

Cancellation of all dismissals so far and reinstatement of all dismissed workers of Halivourki Aspropirgos!

With militant greetings of solidarity

Steelworkers from Aspropirgos“

 

Solidarity messages and protests can be sent to the following address: 

international@pamehellas.gr

 

(documented in Red Flag 17/2014  25 April 2014, p. 17)

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