Work with dignity and prospects the new major goal, PM says in May Day message

The new major goal for Greece in the post-memorandum era will be to heal the wounds inflicted on society by the crisis and win back the right to work with dignity and prospects, as well as ensure the return of young people that have sought employment abroad, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a May Day message on Monday.

“We must give back hope and prospects to Greek society and especially the younger generations,” Tsipras said.

“Just as they were 131 years ago, so today the struggles of the people of labour are struggles for the progress and prosperity of societies. In Chicago in the U.S. in 1886, workers fought for an eight-hour working day and better conditions. Today on a global level, labour is under fire from the hegemony of neoliberalism, which deifies profits and for their sake demands policies to reduce labour cost in every way,” he said.

Among the repercussions of the crisis and the recessionary policies imposed under the memorandums that followed was soaring unemployment, greater insecurity and further flexibility in labour, Tsipras noted. In the last two years, the government has striven to counteract this, to implement labour law and fight undeclared labour, achieving notable results, he added.

“We successfuly waged the hardest negotiating battle with our lenders, that of restoring collective agreements and normality in labour relations,” Tsipras said.

“Thanks to our alliances on a European, political and trade union level and over the objections of Greece’s opposition parties, which called our insistence “obsessive”, as well as the remarkable indifference of the local trade union bureaucracy, we succeeded in winning this battle for the workers’ benefit,” he added.

Tsipras said the government had fended off “unreasonable” demands to increase the limit for mass dismissals and allow employers to proceed with lockouts, while it would soon restore the principle of extensibility and ‘best measures’ for sectoral collective labour agreements. At the same time, it was fighting a coordinated battle to fight undeclared labour and to provide all workers with state protection, he said.

After the completion of the second review, Tsipras added, the government intends to make equitable growth a strategic goal and thus lay the foundations for fighting unemployment and creating new and decently-paid jobs.