Yesterday at the ninth annual conference of the National Shop Stewards Network, Harris Sideris, a Greek trade union activist spoke passionately in defence of workers rights and for a no vote in today’s critically important referendum. He began his speech by explaining his role helping organise exploited call-centre workers based in Vodafone Athens: work, which so far, has led to huge workplace public meetings and two successful strike actions, with upwards of 85% of staff involved.
“Vodafone Greece are trying to divide their personnel into two, or three, or four, different levels of employees. There are those who are contracted and are paid directly by Vodaphone: so they are paid something like €900 per month, for an eight hour job per day, and the rest of them who are divided into six or seven different outsourcers and companies, who are paid for the same job just €560 if they work eight hours a day… But for someone who is younger than 25 they only get paid €480 a month. This is a not a salary you can live with. There is also a huge amount of personal targets that you must reach in order not to be sacked.”
He then went on to discuss the need for a no vote in today’s referendum, paraphrasing Marx when he said “There is a specter haunting Europe, it is the specter of NO, or OXI as we say.” Mr Sideris then explained:
“We call for the Syriza government to reconsider in a really serious way what would happen on Monday if No wins the referendum…. They need a plan B… As far as the debt is concerned, the government should declare the debt illegal. As for the banks, we have paid €260 billion over fives years of memorandum for the banks, we cannot pay any more, they are our banks, we should take them into our hands, we should nationalise them. We should go on with our own currency, this is not a nationalistic way of thinking, it is a practical way of thinking.
“We should take the economy in our hands, and this means to take our lives into our hands, because look at what they did: in the name of the investors and investments in the private sector they have created 30% of the people to be unemployed, the rest of them to be employed with their salaries under attack, and thousands of them to commit suicide. Unemployment around the youth is around 60%, this is the world that they have created for us. We are in favour of Europe, but we are in favour of Europe for the people. So let the European people unite against the austerity, and let us say a huge no to this situation, and let us take our own lives in our hands.”