Tag Archives: Greece

Greece:Interview with Union President Nikos Photopoulos

Interview with NIKOS PHOTOPOULOS, President of the GENOP-DEH union of workers of the Greek national electricity company, who is to be sentenced on the 10th of January, 2012, along with 14 of his comrades

Interview conducted in Athens, December 1st, by the ILC International Newsletter

Q: Facing the heavy prison sentence that you are faced with, shouldn’t we plan to undertake a broad campaign in the international labour movement to demand the lifting of any legal proceedings, especially between now and January 10th, 2010?

A: I thank you for the proposal, because we need such a campaign in order to pressure the government. We need to show the workers that they are not alone. The government and the Troika [IMF, European Union, European Central Bank — tr. note] have committed to a war to the bitter end. Nothing will stop them. With the government and the Troika, the accounts have been opened. These accounts are going to be settled in the streets. It is either us or them. We can no longer bear this policy that makes the workers pay while the rich get richer. It was not us, the workers, who were governing when the debts were contracted, so it is not up to us to pay those debts.

Today, a class war is taking place in Greece and for us the workers, it is our survival that is at stake, because they have blocked all the roads to the future. But we will bring those obstacles down. We are going to win back our dreams, which have been stolen. Greece already counts a million and a half workers under the poverty level, and a million of unemployed.

For over a year and a half now, they have been trying to brainwash us, to make us believe that we are responsible for what has happened to our country. But the brainwashing isn’t working. The people have awakened and their combat is at the heart of the situation.

That is why we did not hesitate to stand up to them, to show that we are not afraid — and we are doing so in all awareness and in order to open the way forward.

Yesterday, if the judgement sentencing us to prison had been pronounced, we had decided collectively not to appeal, in order to make them face up to their responsibilities. We did so in all awareness, not acting as heroes or as martyrs, but not lowering our heads. Our conscience is clear.

Q: How was the decision to occupy the centre in the Kholargos district taken, and what role did the union play?
A: We came to occupy to block the electricity cuts that have hit the unemployed and the poorest who can not afford to pay. This occupation was unbearable to the government, who sent the police to oust us. We knew that things would end up like this. We are demanding that the law be cancelled, because access to electricity should not be used as a means of pressure on society. The MPs who voted for this tax could never survive for even an hour without electricity Š but, as for others, they don’t give a damn.

Q: Yesterday, on the eve of the general strike called by the GSEE and ADEDY confederations, the court that was judging you and the 14 other activists of the GENOP-DEH, postponed its sentencing to the 10th of January, 2012. What are you accused of and what might your sentences be?
A: We are accused of “blocking the action of the forces of law and order” and blocking the proper functioning of public services”. Prison sentences of 6 months to 5 years are being sought against us. But the government fears having to declare us guilty because of the consequences that they would have to face. That is why they have put off this decision.

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Greece:Stop the prosecution of Nikos Photopoulos and his comrades from the GENOP-DEH union immediately!

Fifteen union leaders and rank-and-file member of the GENOP-DEH will appear in court on January 10, 2012. They face up to five years in prison without parole for expressing their opposition to the policies of the Troika (IMF, European Union, and European Central Bank) and for actively demonstrating their solidarity with the Greek people, who refuse by any and all means necessary to pay for a crisis created by the banksters and speculators.

The International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples, in close collaboration with the Greek unionists [see statement and interview below], has launched an international campaign to demand that all charges be dropped against the 15 GENOP-DEH trade unionists.

Given the seriousness of the charges and the very short time before the court ruling, the ILC and GENOP-DEH are especially asking to receive solidarity statements from national and international trade union bodies, national unions, and local unions and central labor councils — though individual endorsements are also welcome.

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Appeal by the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples (ILC)

Stop the prosecution of Nikos Photopoulos and his comrades from the GENOP-DEH union immediately!

We have just been informed by representatives of the Greek public power union, GENOP-DEH, of the repression affecting 15 Greek members of the GENOP-DEH union:

On 24 November 2011, squads of riot police (MAT) stormed the power company’s facilities in Mesogeion Avenue in Athens and violently cleared it of workers and trade unionists who had been staging a sit-in/occupation for a few days. The offices are responsible for cutting off the electricity supply to the thousands of working-class families who have refused to pay the new property tax imposed by the Greek government by order of the Troika (IMF-European Commission-European Central Bank), which is being levied through the electricity bills. The same offices are in charge of cutting off the supply to the thousands of families who, due to the crisis, can no longer pay their bills.

On 30 November 2011, 15 trade unionists, including GENOP-DEH General Secretary Nikos Photopoulos, appeared in court, charged with “obstructing the forces of order” and “obstructing the correct functioning of the public services”. They face prison sentences of 6 months to 5 years without parole. On the eve of the 1 December general strike called by the trade union confederations GSEE and ADEDY, the government decided it would be wiser to hold its fire; accordingly the court postponed its ruling until 10 January 2012.

Throughout the world, the workers and peoples are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Greek workers and their trade union organisations as they engage in the battle against the Troika’s barbaric plans implemented by the Greek government. The workers’ actions are legitimate, just as the actions of the Greek power workers and their trade union to prevent the power disconnections and to demand the withdrawal of the new tax imposed by the government are legitimate.

No worker, no labour activist, no democratic labour organisation can accept this threat of repression, which would be a blow against all labour and democratic rights.

This is why the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples (ILC) has decided to inform all labour organisations around the world of these extremely serious facts, and to invite them to join in the effort, in whichever form they see fit, to demand that the Greek authorities immediately drop the legal proceedings against the GEOP-DEH union members, and to express their solidarity with them.

Louisa Hanoune, General Secretary of the Workers Party (Algeria)
Daniel Gluckstein, National Secretary of the Independent Workers Party (France )
Co-ordinators of the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples

Messages should be sent to

main@genop.gr et press@genop.gr
(copy to be sent to the ILC : eit.ilc@fr.oleane.com)

Greek Prime Minister Papademos

Greek Minister of Labour
Ministry of Labour
40 Pireos Str. 10182 ATHENS – GREECE
Fax: +30 210 5295 186

Greek Minister of justice
Ministry of Justice
96, Messoghion Avenue 11527 Ambelopiki Athens –
Fax: +30 210 7755835