The membership of the Washington DC IWW General Membership branch stands in complete solidarity with the workers at the Malamantina Winery in Kalochori, West Thessaloniki, who are on a militant, indefinite strike for dignity at work and a collective bargaining agreement. Since the end of July they have occupied the gate of the factory and refuse to back down until their demands are met. The strike has come after employers unleashed a barrage of layoffs and refused thus far to sign a new Collective Agreement.
When the previous Collective Agreement expired, it became clear to the workers that the company’s goal was to sabotage negotiations so no new collective bargaining agreement could be signed. That way, they could implement a “voluntary” redundancy plan and the signing of individual employment contracts. At the end of May the company made the first five layoffs of new employees who had been working for 5 to 10 months. The new workers were paid minimum wage, while older workers were paid in accordance with the previous Collective Agreement, which guaranteed additional rights. The employer’s move was intended to intimidate workers, with the ultimate aim of completely wiping out their collectively won rights.
When the company was on the verge of collapse a few years ago, the state (with the taxpayer’s money) agreed to forgive the vast majority of its debts. Even the workers agreed to help the company avoid collapse by agreeing to wage cuts. But when profits were secured again, the company attacked the workforce to run up its profits. The “rescue plan” even provided for the preservation of jobs and working conditions. But the new bosses are taking advantage of the new anti-worker Hatzidakis labor law brought in by Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis of the conservative New Democracy (ND) government. The new laws allow the company to subdue workers’ rights andimpose individual contracts instead of a collective bargaining agreement with all its workers. And those who oppose this are fired.
These outrageous acts of union busting are based on trying to divide the workforce. It’s a familiar trick by the capitalists in these last few decades. The purpose is to separate permanent and temporary workers, full time and part time workers, newer and older workers. We in the DC IWW share the striking Malamantina workers’ clear understanding that these divisions are arbitrary and must be cast aside! We are inspired by the workers’ militancy and their refusal to back down. As a revolutionary, industrial union, we seek to overcome the same divisions Malmantina workers have in all our campaigns.
Revolutionary industrial unions, militant trade unions, social movements, parties, and other organizations must coordinate and actively support this battle. The DC IWW engages with campaigns of support in workplaces and joint militant initiatives because we understand that an injury to one is an injury to all—even if our struggles are separated by oceans. Malamantina workers are also seeking the widest possible social support for the demands of the workers, which is crucial for the outcome of the struggle. A victory in the struggle of the workers in Malamatina will be a victory for all of us.
The DC IWW GMB