Sunday, February 05, 2012

Greek Hospital Occupied By Workers

As Greek political leaders - including banker turned unelected Prime Minister Lucas Papademos - hold talks over another punishing round of attacks on the working class, the workforce of one hospital has taken matters into their own hands, and declared that "we occupy the public hospital and put it under our direct and absolute control".

The Athens summit is aimed at putting forward another programme of privatisations, cuts and possibly new taxes, aimed at appeasing the international financiers who are poised to loan billions of Euros more to the Greek government. The Greek government will then be able to pay its creditors the next tranche of repayments, and will avoid a default in mid-March. Over the last few years, a typical Greek worker has seen their living standards slashed by at least a fifth, and the new scheme put forward the government will be but the latest deepening of their misery.

This ruling class onslaught has certainly not gone unchallenged, and multiple general strikes have shut down large sections of the Greek economy for one or two days at a time, although these have largely been stifled by the trade union bureaucracies. There have been many battles between workers and police, and even between workers and the Greek Communist Party. And last summer, many young people occupied public spaces such as Syntagma Square, as part of the southern European 'indignados' wave, which was a forerunner to the global Occupy movement.

There have been brief workplace occupations too, but none as potentially interesting as this one, because the involvement of such an important public resource as a hospital makes huge public solidarity seem very likely. The original Greek statement has been published on a few websites, but the English translation only appears a few times online. Please spread the news to all your networks!

The following is the English translation:
"The workers of the Γ.Ν. (General Hospital) of Kilkis: doctors, nursing and the rest of the staff that participated in the General Assembly concluded that:
  1. We recognize that the current and enduring problems of Ε.Σ.Υ (the national health system) and related organizations cannot be solved with specific and isolated demands or demands serving our special interests, since these problems are a product of a more general anti-popular governmental policy and of the bold global neoliberalism.
  2. We recognize, as well, that by insisting in the promotion of that kind of demands we essentially participate in the game of the ruthless authority. That authority which, in order to face its enemy - i.e. the people- weakened and fragmented, wishes to prevent the creation of a universal labour and popular front on a national and global level with common interests and demands against the social impoverishment that the authority's policies bring.
  3. For this reason, we place our special interests inside a general framework of political and economic demands that are posed by a huge portion of the greek people that today is under the most brutal capitalist attack; demands that in order to be fruitful must be promoted until the end in cooperation with the middle and lower classes of our society.
  4. The only way to achieve this is to question, in action, not only its political legitimacy, but also the legality of the arbitrary authoritarian and anti-popular power and hierarchy which is moving towards totalitarianism with accelerating pace.
  5. The workers at the General Hospital of Kilkis answer to this totalitarianism with democracy. We occupy the public hospital and put it under our direct and absolute control. The Γ.N. of Kilkis, will henceforth be self-governed and the only legitimate means of administrative decision making will be the General Assembly of its workers.
  6. The government is not released of its economic obligations of staffing and suppling the hospital, but if they continue to ignore these obligations, we will be forced to inform the public of this and ask the local government but most importantly the society to support us in any way possible for: (a) the survival of our hospital (b) the overall support of the right for public and free healthcare (c) the overthrow, through a common popular struggle, of the current government and any other neoliberal policy, no matter where it comes from (d) a deep and substantial democratization, that is, one that will have society, rather than a third party, responsible for making decisions for its own future.
  7. The labour union of the Γ.N. of Kilkis, will begin, from 6 February, the retention of work, serving only emergency incidents in our hospital until the complete payment for the hours worked, and the rise of our income to the levels it was before the arrival of the troika (EU-ECB-IMF). Meanwhile, knowing fully well what our social mission and moral obligations are, we will protect the health of the citizens that come to the hospital by providing free healthcare to those in need, accommodating and calling the government to finally accept its responsibilities, overcoming even in the last minute its immoderate social ruthlessness.
  8. We decide that a new general assembly will take place, on Monday 13 February in the assembly hall of the new building of the hospital at 11 am, in order to decide the procedures that are needed to efficiently implement the occupation of the administrative services and to successfully realise the self-governance of the hospital, which will start from that day. The general assemblies will take place daily and will be the paramount instrument for decision making regarding the employees and the operation of the hospital."
"We ask for the solidarity of the people and workers from all fields, the collaboration of all workers' unions and progressive organizations, as well as the support from any media organization that chooses to tell the truth. We are determined to continue until the traitors that sell out our country and our people leave. It's either them or us!
"The above decisions will be made public through a news conference to which all the Mass Media (local and national) will be invited on Wednesday 15/2/2012 at 12.30. Our daily assemblies begin on 13 February. We will inform the citizens about every important event taking place in our hospital by means of news releases and conferences. Furthermore, we will use any means available to publicise these events in order to make this mobilization successful.
"We call
a) our fellow citizens to show solidarity to our effort,
b) every unfairly treated citizen of our country in contestation and opposition, with actions, against his'/her's oppressors,
c) our fellow workers from other hospitals to make similar decisions,
d) the employees in other fields of the public and private sector and the participants in labour and progressive organizations to act likewise, in order to help our mobilization take the form of a universal labour and popular resistance and uprising, until our final victory against the economic and political elite that today oppresses our country and the whole world."
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