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Carmen M. is not alone


 Carmen M. is a member of the waiters’ and cooks’ base trade union (σωματε?ο σερβιτ?ρων μαγε?ρων). After returning from a short medical leave she was fired by her boss, Stelios Karezos, owner of VIA-VAI – a large coffee shop chain in Athens. At the meetings that followed in order to arrange for the salaries and compensation she was owed, Karezos was provocative against the worker as well as representatives of the base union. On March 23d, the day when the final settlement was to be made, Karezos realised the mass presence of members of the union and started photographing them with his digital camera. After a demand that he deleted the photos, he pulled up his shirt to show the GUN he was carrying with him. The story continued at the local police station, where the police “suggested” to Carmen that she did not sue her ex-boss or he could counter-sue her, which would result in all of them being detained overnight. During the entire incident her ex-boss Karezos was repeating the phrase “now you got yourselves into trouble”…

The next day, March 24th late in the evening, Carmen M. was attacked by persons unknown as she was heading to her home. She was brutally hit on the head and abandoned bleeding and unconscious outside her house. The motive of the attack was not robbery since when she recovered Carmen still had her money and phone on her.

Rough translation of the latest statement by the Waiters’ and Cooks’ Base Trade Union

No worker is alone – war against the bosses’ war

Our colleague Carmen M, member of our union, was fired by the boss of the coffee shop chain VIA VAI after returning from a legal leave. In the meetings that followed in order to arrange for the salaries and compensation she was owed, Karezos was provocative against the worker as well as representatives of the base union. On March 23d, the day when the final settlement was to be made, Karezos realised the mass presence of members of the union and started photographing them with his digital camera. After a demand that he deleted the photos, he pulled up his shirt to show the GUN he was carrying with him. The story continued at the local police station, where the police “suggested” to Carmen that she did not sue her ex-boss or he could counter-sue her, which would result in all of them being detained overnight. During the entire incident her ex-boss Karezos was repeating the phrase “now you got yourselves into trouble”…

The next day, March 24th late in the evening, Carmen M. was attacked by persons unknown as she was heading to her home. She was brutally hit on the head and abandoned bleeding and unconscious outside her house. The motive of the attack was not robbery since when she recovered Carmen still had her money and phone on her.

On March 26th members of the Union together with tens of others in solidarity blocked off the shop VIA VAI (3, Stadiou Str in Athens) for many hours while the up-to-that-point provocative boss Karezos hid in the basement. Similar interventions followed at the VIA VAI cafes on Panepistimiou Avenue (opposite Propylea) and on the corner of Mpenaki and Feidiou Street. On the evening of the same day Karezos got in touch with our union asking that he pays Carmen the money he owes her, claiming it was all a misunderstanding.

There are obviously no misunderstandings and no isolated incidents. Unpaid overtimes, “forgotten” medical insurance contributions, the non-payment of supplements, sackings, wage decreases, informal labour are all part of the reality we experience daily in the labour galleys.

Whoever dares to speak of this is faced with, on the one hand, the terrorism of the bosses that includes guns, threats, bouncers and sulphuric acid – and on the other hand, the terrorism of unemployment. All these take place at a time when the state, this time under the pretext of the financial crisis, re-defines the terms of paid employment in favour of the bosses; institutionalising the abolition of gained rights, opening a path for the intensification of exploitation and repression.

In this attempt of theirs, the state and bosses have found as willing allies the leaders of the sold-out trade unions, giving them future government and party positions in exchange. In this direction, the latter sign collective agreements that include the freezing or decrease of wages; they ignore the assassinations and butchering of tens of workers; they cover-up the mega-contractors’ bussiness and refuse to call for general strikes. When they do at times call for strikes under the pressure of the workers, they sabotage them themselves and repress them. A typical such example was the stance of GSEE (General Confederation of Workers) at the strike of March 11th, when in co-operation with the police it distanced itself from the base unions, which resulted to the attack of the latter by the riot police.

Within this bleak reality, the mass media are on an assignment to try convince us it is all happening for our own good, according to which “we must all make sacrifices in order for the economy and the country to be saved”. As it is well known, the journalist’s microphone reaches where the cop’s baton can’t. And so, on the one hand the mass media publicise the details and the name of the member of a union, pointing at them as responsible for the “labour accident” of the sold-out trade union leader Panagopoulos and on the other hand, smelling a “popular” story, they rush to publicise the case of VIA VAI, aiming at promoting the isolated character of the incident.

We are negative toward mass media because for us information is action that is connected to the medium – and for this reason action that brings us, as bodies, to the physical space of exploitation and struggle. It does not take place, then, at the stories of the 8 o’clock news but at the stories of the streets. And so, the bet is of our own structures of labour counter-information to develop; and this current struggle has such potential.

From our own labour experiences we believe that EACH OF US and ALL OF US TOGETHER must take responsibility for:

  • The formation of Base Unions in all labour sections wher they do not currently exist
  • The support of existing Base Unions
  • the strengthening of the General Assemblies of workers
  • the overcoming of boards of directors and all mechanisms of mediation
  • our lives and all that concern us

RESISTANCE to the terrorism of the bosses

SOLIDARITY between workers

SELF-ORGANISE in all workplaces

Gathering-demonstration

Tuesday March 30, 6pm at the Propylea, Athens

Union of Waiters, Cooks and all Workers in the Food Industry

6, Lontou and Mesologgiou Streets, 2nd Floor, Exarcheia / 210- 3820537 / 6997736504

[email protected] or [email protected]

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