Tag Archives: trade union repression

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


ATNC Joint Day of Action – Hong Kong protest at Korean and Philippines Consulates

Today in Hong Kong we conducted the ATNC Joint Day of Action against trade union repression in Asia – focusing on the South Korean Consulate and the Philippines Consulate.

In the South Korean Consulate where we went first, the Consulate office was shut down, security gate pulled down…but Consul-General Jun came out to listen to us. We spoke about the shame of an ILO and OECD member so systematic robbing workers of trade union rights, including stopping workers from forming unions, regarding press conferences as illegal, mass arrests and disciplinary measures against legitimate unions and strikes, such as by the Korean Teachers Union.

We condemned Samsung Corporation as one of the worst, with its ‘no-union policy’. We demanded justice and compensation for the victims of Samsung semiconductor factories who died or are ill from working at Samsung. We demanded justice for the dead leukemia victims like Hwang Yu-mi, who died at the young age of only 22 years, after working at Samsung just two years, cleaning wafers at Samsung Semiconductor.

SEE HERE FOR VIDEO “Workers in Samsung” (ENGLISH/CHINESE) –http://dotsub.com/view/user/workersinsamsun

We also condemned the Korean government for its inhumane crackdown on migrant workers in Korea. Furthermore the Korean Consulate in Hong Kong also shows disregard for migrant rights in Hong Kong – when Hong Kong people travel to Korea with their domestic workers, the Korean Consulate sends them a LETTER which says that it is ‘strongly recommended’ to HOLD the passport of the domestic worker to prevent becoming an undocumented migrant worker in Korea. This is illegal in Hong Kong yet the Korean Consulate itself issues letters to advise people to do so.

Consul-General Jun listened to us from the beginning and received our letter and said he would convey our message to his government and try to protect workers’ rights including migrant rights.

At the Philippines Consulate, we received a much less diplomatic reception. Through the police escort, the Consulate repeatedly tried to make us meet their representative at a location far from the Consulate.

Finally we went up but the Philippine Consulate was also shut down – door closed, security gates pulled down. We were told the Consul General Claro Cristobal was not present then, and nobody would come to receive our letter if we stayed. However we stayed to let all those who were there, about the extrajudicial killings, the use of ‘assumption of jurisidiction’ to justify use of police and military against workers simply trying to defend their rights or to strike….We expressed our strong solidarity with the workers of Nestle and Toyota, who have been striking so many years to demand their legal rights to collective bargaining and recognition – our sorrow for the two dead union leaders of Nestle who had been killed and our outrage.

Dolores Balladares of Asian Migrant Coordinating Body also spoke in Tagalog to the Filiipina migrant workers present, expressing that we all were assembled to show solidarity with Filipino workers, and that the Phlippines government was doing nothing while workers of Nestle and Toyota and many other workplaces are being threatened, beaten and even killed. She further condemned the Consulate for closing down and stopping services to migrant Filipina workers, simply to stop us from having our chance to raise our legitimate grievances!

Finally one staff came and collected our letter to pass to the Consul-General.

The groups who joined included: Asia Monitor Resource Centre, HK Confederation of Trade Unions, Globalization Monitor, Asian Migrant Coordinating Body, International League of People’s Struggles, Asian Students Assocation, Asian Human Rights Commission, Interfaith Coooperation Forum, and Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants. About 25 of us were there…

SEE THE PHOTOS HERE:http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/lenifish/ATNCJointDayOfActionMarch222010?feat=directlink

THANKS to everyone…. and we hope this is the beginning of further solidarity and cooperation among all concerned groups and individuals until workers in Asia are free to unite for their share in decision-making in the economy and workplace, without being repressed and attacked!


Solidarity to workers in South Korea! To those struggling against union-busting Samsung!
Solidarity to workers in Philippines! To the persevering workers at Nestle, Toyota and many other workplaces!
Solidarity to all workers in Asia – we will keep building up our voices and our strength!