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Statement to all seamen and workers

Pan-Hellenic Union of Merchant Marine Engineers (PEMEN)
Pan-Hellenic Union of lower engine crews (STEPHENSON)

Before and during the strike mobilisations of seamen on 21-22 April, there has been an organised assault on the right to strike. It was launched by radio stations and newspapers controlled by ship-owners and other magnates (Sky, Mega, “Kathimerini”, “Ta nea”, “To vima” etc).

In this vile, slanderous attack also took part:

The prime-minister and chairman of PASOK called the seamen “rebels” in quotes and invited them to submit to the anti-popular policy, the EU and the WMF.

Ministers, deputies and other cadres of the governing party, as well as the leaderships of liberal ND and populist LAOS.

The chairman of SYN/SYRIZA Mr. Tsipras who insulted the right to guard the strike by naming it “frenzy”.

The chairman of GSEE (compromised trade union federation of the private sector), paternalist Panagopoulos.

Well paid journalists ordered to slander workers’ struggles.

Businessmen who become rich from the exploitation of workers.

It is confirmed once again that those who attempt to tarnish our struggle and blame the right to strike, those who slander and resort to anticommunism are seamen’s and workers’ opponents. They defend the deplorable exploitation regime and are responsible for abolishing the labour rights. They serve ship-owners’ capital, tourism businessmen, those who exploit the people.

They fear working class struggle and the guarding of the right to strike. They fear PAME’s force, the force of the class movement and of the workers’ solidarity. They scream with rage saying: “The struggles destroy tourism, close down businesses and damage the country”.

They lie, slander and resort to ridiculous arguments trying to present capitalists’ interest as universal. They try to shift the responsibility of the exploitative system and anti-popular policy. Blame the workers that struggle for their rights and to the class forces - the vanguard of every struggle.


PASOK and ND governments tried hard to raise the competitiveness and profitability of ship-owners: reduced organic synthesis; exploited “black”, uninsured labour; implemented tax exemption and exemption from contributions to the Merchant Marine Pensions Fund (NAT); cancelled debts amounting to millions of euro. Offered cheap fuel and diverse funding.

The seamen suffer daily from the anti-labour policy and are exploited by the ship-owners. They face unemployment, increased workload, crimes presented as accidents. In 2010 the minimum wage in the ships is 694 euros and the minimum pension of NAT is 400 euro!

More hardships are added to this already painful situation: flexible forms of employment, measures undermining social security and aiming to increase retirement age and lower pensions.

Moreover, the prime-minister recently promised tourism businessmen to lift the cabotage and the restrictions concerning cruise ships.

We would like to inform workers that:

The lift of the cabotage and of the restrictions concerning cruise ships means:

Allowing the ship-owners to define ship routes as they wish, so as to maximise the profit.

Abolishing of regular employees (decrease of the crew number), extension of slavery and uninsured seamen exploitation.

Galley-slave labour conditions and “sinking” of NAT.

The argument that the lift will benefit the workers of islands and self-employed is false. Shipping companies offer various conveniences aboard cruise ships and deal with major companies and hotels which impose their interest against self-employed.

As far as the lift of cabotage is concerned it leads to the deterioration of islands service, the rise of ticket prices and vehicle fares. On the other hand ship-owners are subsidised with hundreds millions of euro for the so called marginal routes.

Seamen react to this situation and organise their struggle demanding full-time stable employment and rights corresponding to modern needs.

The court declared the 48-hour strike of the class trade unions PEMEN – Stephenson on 21-22 April illegal and abusive. Despite that the strike was held successfully. It posed the defense of the right to strike as an additional demand.

The Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation was forced to participate in the 24-hour strike on 26 April. The demands focused on the issue of cruise ships restrictions lift. They pinpointed the situation on the ship Zenith, sailing under the Maltese flag, that disembarks and boards passengers in Pireaus port. It violates all labour rights and exploits a crew with no insurance or rights. The shipping company and agents were notified so as not to bring the passengers to the port. Despite that they attempted to use the passengers against the strike.

They failed. The trade unions and strike guard discussed with the passengers who expressed their solidarity with the seamen’s struggle. Both seamen and passengers demanded the transfer of the latter to a hotel.

Seamen’s opponents try to distort these facts.

We warn them that the forces of PAME, class trade unions and the seamen’s movement can ruin their plans. They will repel the ideological intimidation and the repressions by escalating their struggle.

We remind that the seamen not only resist anti-labour preconceived court decisions but also withstood against the civil mobilisation of ND and PASOK governments.

Now, we organise the nationwide strike on Mayday. We honour the WORKERS’ MAYDAY by struggling against the anti-labour policy of PASOK government, by resisting ship-owners’ and capital’s assault and demanding our rights.

We aim to rally more forces. Strengthen working class unity. Built a popular coalition along with the popular strata.

We demand:

  • Development and Maritime policy based on people’s needs.
  • Ships to become people’s property, the property of those who produce the wealth.
  • No sacrifice for the plutocracy. Law is the rights of the workers.

Pan-Hellenic Union of Merchant Marine Engineers (PEMEN)

Pan-Hellenic Union of lower engine crews (STEPHENSON)



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