jump to navigation

The Struggle in Greece: English-Language Information April 30, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in European Politics, The Left.

As Greece gears up for a general strike on May 5th, here is a link to the English-language website of PAME (All Workers Militant Front) [but not an image of their May Day poster because it won't work properly].

PAME is a Trade Union Front. It is open, democratic, unifying and it pursues to have among its members the most active, fighting forces of the trade union movement. It has got panhellenic characteristics and focuses on every working field and production branch, in the Public and Private Sector, with no exceptions.
PAME was founded on April 3rd 1999, through the Panhellenic Meeting, held at the Piece and Frienship Stadium , Faliro, Athens, with the participation of 230 trade unions, 18 branch and peripheral associations and 2.500 elected union members.

It also places a strong emphasis on internationalism.

PAME is based on the proletarian internationalism and solidarity principles. Nowadays, in the conditions of the temporary ruling of imperialism we live, the need to Coordinate and Work Together with movements in other countries is strong.
Capitalists’ forces, Socialdemocracy and Opportunism are coordinated through the mechanisms of the Confederation of European Work Unions (SES) and of ITUC. These organizations work for and work with Capitalism.
Facing all these, PAME takes actively part in the attempts to rebuild the class-oriented trade union movement in Europe. We have successfully held, with the cooperation of other union members and trade unions, European trade union meetings in Turkey, in Greece, in France, in Italy and elsewhere. We are going to go on with these efforts because we firmly believe that the situation in Europe affects negatively the whole world. The difficulties the trade union movement faces, do not lay only in fighting capitalists and governments. The union movement has got to fight also some leading groups in CGT France and CCOO Spain and their dirty role in all these.

UPDATE: There is a Facebook Group called Solidarity with the Working People of Greece and Jim has provided a link to a different viewpoint in the comments. As indeed has Mark P.

About these ads


1. Jim Monaghan - April 30, 2010


A slightly different take. Unity is needed

2. Mark P - April 30, 2010

Just to make it clear, because Garibaldy forgot to mention it, the PAME is basically the trade union fraction of the KKE, the Greek Communist Party. The KKE is an important organisation with a strong tradition amongst Greek workers. It is however both rigidly Stalinist and highly sectarian towards the rest of the Greek left.

So read what they have to say, but be aware of their biases.

Here’s an article by Xekinima, the sister organisation of the Socialist Party in Greece. It’s one of the affiliates of SYRIZA, the other big far left party in Greece. The article features a visit by Joe HIggins to Greece, to give it a bit of Irish interest. They have been arguing for unity between SYRIZA and the KKE.


3. A. Abelson - April 30, 2010

“So read what they have to say, but be aware of their biases.”

The lack of self-awareness is hilarious!

Well done Mark P. Tell me, do you wear your objective underpants on the outside of your tights, flying around the world saying “SOMEWHERE THERE IS A BIAS HAPPENING. THE SOCIALIST PARTY MUST ACT!!!”

Mark P - April 30, 2010

There’s no lack of self-awareness at all. I’m sure that most people who read the comments here regularly are well aware of where I’m coming from and don’t need a disclaimer to that effect. The same probably isn’t true of a union front of a party in Greece.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

There’s no lack of self-awareness at all. I’m sure that most people who read the comments here regularly are well aware of where I’m coming from and don’t need a disclaimer to that effect.

The same probably isn’t true of the union front of a party in Greece, particularly not when it’s being presented as broad, open, democratic etc. It’s important information for someone who doesn’t necessarily follow the Greek left in any kind of detail that PAME is the KKE union fraction.

Maybe I’m wrong and everyone reading this site was already familiar with the PAME, but I very much doubt it.

A. Abelson - April 30, 2010

“It’s important information for someone who doesn’t necessarily follow the Greek left in any kind of detail that PAME is the KKE union fraction.”

Oh how true. Thanks for the info. If only there was some kind of, I don’t know, interconnected information system available to us, one that we could search and maybe find out stuff we don’t know. You know, maybe something where we could put the name of something we are trying to find out, a key word or something, and this engine, this search engine or whatever, could help us find the information on this interconnected information system.

That would be great. Until then, thanks for the non-biased take on the Greek Left.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

Maybe you are in the habit of Googling every link you follow. I’m not and I suspect that most people are not.

Here Garibaldy was promoting the website of a trade union organisation. I added a couple of sentences explaining what the organisation being promoted actually is. I said absolutely nothing untrue and I suspect that some people would find it helpful to know that the link is to the site of a Greek Communist Party front.

What precisely is your objection to that information being added?

4. HAL - April 30, 2010

Fair play to PAME.Can’t understand how some on the left get away with calling for Left unity and in the same breath slag off others.Why not just put your stall out for all to see and stop petty bickering.As adults we all know bias exists and can make up our own minds.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

How is it slagging anyone off to point out who they are? PAME are the trade union fraction of the KKE. They are not simply “the most active, fighting forces of the trade union movement” as they were recently introduced.

I made precisely two remarks about the KKE which could be taken as critical. I described them as Stalinists, which I certainly regard as a criticism but, and this is important, they equally certainly would not regard that as a criticism. They aren’t shame-faced about their Stalinism in the slightest.

I also described them as highly sectarian towards the rest of the Greek left. I stand by that. They pretty much refuse to cooperate or coordinate with any other parties or forces in any field as a matter of principle. And I am genuinely baffled by the idea that it is hypocritical or unreasonable to both advocate unity and criticise people who are opposed to it.

A. Abelson - April 30, 2010

“They pretty much refuse to cooperate or coordinate with any other parties or forces in any field as a matter of principle.”

Haha! Oh Mark, please. Stop. you’re killing me here.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

Really? You are apparently easily amused. What precisely is your objection to it being pointed out that PAME is run by the KKE?

5. HAL - April 30, 2010

You were not giving information about PAME ,noting positive was said, you just informed people of your personal/political distaste for them.I see that as being negative.Fine during an election but wrong when they are trying to mobilise the greek workers in protest against the cutbacks.You will always be baffled if you continue criticising in public those you seek to befriend.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

I was precisely giving information about PAME, information which had been misleadingly left out of the original advert for their website. I did not repeat the information that Garibaldy actually did include in his original post, I just added the parts that had been omitted.

And I’m not trying to befriend the KKE. I think that the KKE and SYRIZA should work together to create a mass working class party – something which they, unlike the Irish left, are actually in a position to do. But I’m under no illusions that the KKE leadership will listen to me or anyone else on that issue. The KKE are so bitterly hostile to SYRIZA that they quite often accuse them of being “state agents” and the like.

LeftAtTheCross - April 30, 2010

“misleadingly left out”

Chill pill mark, it’s the May Day weekend.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

Garibaldy knows what PAME actually are. He chose not to mention it.

LeftAtTheCross - April 30, 2010

Mark, ok, but it’s reasonably clear that Garibaldy’s background is WP and your background is SP, and people are grown up enough to filter posts here without having to be so directed.

I thought the underpants comment was funny myself :-)

6. A. Abelson - April 30, 2010

I’ve no objection to the information being added. I didn’t express any objection to the information being added. I am, however, laughing my ass off at the complete lack of self-awareness you are exhibiting here. You genuinely don’t see how ridiculous it is for you of all people to pontificate about bias and left sectarianism.

I also described them as highly sectarian towards the rest of the Greek left. I stand by that.”

Well good for you! You keep that stiff upper lip going there Mark.

That’s the one and only non-sectarian and non-biased Mark P, I should add.

7. Mark P - April 30, 2010

You’ve no objection to the information being added, you just object to me adding it? Have I ever claimed to be unbiased? Are you having some sort of episode?

a. Abelson - April 30, 2010

god you really are slow, aren’t you? I don’t find what you are saying objectionable. I find it hilarious!

I’m laughing at you, Mark P, don’t you get it? I’m laughing AT you.

Mark P calls someone biased and sectarian. That’s like Brian Cowen calling someone fat.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

No, I understand your dull-witted jibes, you slack-jawed moron, I just choose not to acknowledge them.

ejh - April 30, 2010

Can we have some of these postings deleted?

a. Abelson - April 30, 2010

No Problem Dr. Nelson.

Listen, you don’t have 2 Ph.Ds and have published six books by any chance?


Non-sectarian and non-biased Mark P, of the non-sectarian, non-biased, left-consensus-building Irish Socialist Party.

“They pretty much refuse to cooperate or coordinate with any other parties or forces in any field as a matter of principle.”

Just brilliant.

Cheers Mark.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

“Abelson”, if you want to have a discussion about my “sectarianism” or that of the Socialist Party, I’m more than willing to have that discussion with you. I suspect however that you much prefer sneering and sniggering from behind a throwaway alias. So I’ll leave you to continue playing in your own shit.

a. Abelson - April 30, 2010

“I suspect however that you much prefer sneering and sniggering from behind a throwaway alias.”

Well duh!

and you’re right. Using an alias, I mean, not something a super-socialist like yourself would do, nor when you’re out exposing nasty Stalinists.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

There’s nothing wrong with using an alias. In the age of Google its an entirely sensible thing to do on the internet. There is something wrong with using a throwaway alias invented simply to insult people while keeping your own usual online identity or affiliations hidden.

Not that I’d expect you to understand the distinction.

A. abelson - April 30, 2010

“There’s nothing wrong with using an alias. In the age of Google its an entirely sensible thing to do on the internet”

That’s good to hear Mark P. you have principles, you just don’t want anyone to know you have them.

In case you’re googled and it hurts your career.

Principles can do that. They can. It’s true.

nothing like a principled stand held anonymously.

Don’t worry. I understand.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

Yes, how terribly cowardly it is to avoid compiling a lengthy, easily accessable archive of posts about trade union militancy and class conflict for the benefit of prospective future employers.

That is of course entirely the same thing as adopting a throwaway alias so that you can insult and abuse others without tarnishing your online identity or disclosing your political affiliations. There’s no possible distinction that could be drawn between the two. Your behaviour and that of, say the hosts of this site, who were probably not named WbS or Garibaldy on their birth certs is exactly the same. Or wait, maybe it isn’t, because they maintain a consistent online persona and a blog and quite a few people know who they are in the real world and they are therefore accountable in some ways for what they write.

So far all of your contributions to this thread have put me rather mind of this:

A. Abelson - April 30, 2010

Haha! so is that a Stalinist gorilla or a Trotskyist gorilla? I’dhate to be caught laughing at the wrong marginal Irish left faction devouring its own shit.

I reckon the socialist party has a leaflet on that was well.


A. Abelson - April 30, 2010

Sorry, that should read:


Public Meeting

Thursday 6 May 2010 @ 7.30pm

Wynns’ Hotel, Abbey Street

Guest speakers:

Joe Higgins (Socialist Party) ;

Marc Coleman (Newstalk 106);

Clare Daly, Terry Kelleher and Kevin McLaughlin will speak from the floor as impartial, unbiased, members of the audience.


WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2010

Okay, this has to stop here and now. And I’ve been offline having dinner and watching the Night Garden so hence the delay. No need for this at all. There’s plenty of fora on the net where people can go exercise their ire as regards either side of the ruptures in Communism in the 1930s, but not here. Without pretending there are differences a modicum of mutual respect and acknowledgement that others may hold views without them being malign is all that’s asked for. And frankly if people from either side of the splits in Republicanism can generally get along cordially enough on here I really don’t think any other issue is an insuperable barrier.

A. Abelson - April 30, 2010

I’m just finishing what Mark P started. He’s the one who got all uppedy about the “Stalinist” greek communists. It seems that Mark P can be as sectarian as he wants, but when he’s brought to task over it, suddenly it’s all about fairness and respect.

It cuts both ways, WBS. I’m only reaping what Mark P sew.

ejh - April 30, 2010

For pity’s sake grow up or bugger off.

WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2010

I’m not asking for right or wrong, just that we can all back away quietly from the whole thing. Nothing to see here, etc.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

What’s particularly baffling about Abelson getting on his high horse about me referring to the KKE as Stalinist is that the KKE openly and proudly upholds Stalin.

I’m not digging up some dirt from their past, although their past was vehemently pro-Stalin, as seen in particular during the Stalin-Tito split. I’m not even referring to them as Stalinist in the normal sense of a movement that supports the bureaucratic dictatorships and holds the various distinctive political positions of Stalinism (socialism in one country, stages theory etc), although they are certainly Stalinist in that sense too. They are a party which openly and explicitly has a positive view of Stalin himself.

It’s like getting offended because someone called them Greek, or Communists, or a Party. They are explicitly so and would be quite baffled by some Irish person “defending” them against the charge that they are fond of Stalin.

They still to this day put out historical articles which are broadly (although not absolutely uncritically) supportive of Stalin and they vehemently criticised the European Left Party and announced that they wouldn’t join it because the ELP insisted on rejecting Stalinism.

Here’s a video in English which should give you some idea as to their politics on this sort of question:

Mark P - April 30, 2010

Sorry, I posted that before reading ejh and Wbs most recent comments. That’s the last I’ll say on the subject.

yourcousin - May 1, 2010

I know we’re supposed to supportive and this was an informative post, but after seeing that video I have to say, “fuck the KKE”. But then I’m biased

A. Abelson - May 1, 2010

“I know we’re supposed to supportive and this was an informative post, but after seeing that video I have to say, “fuck the KKE”

Haha! That reminds me of the last time I was at a Socialist Party meeting and one of the little trots down the back stood up to congratulate the speaker on such a marvelous and informative comment.

“Hrehm, I just want to day, erhm, that that video, erhm, just SHOWS, erhm, that the KKE are a bunch of, erhm, Stalinists, erhm, and, erhm, that’s it! Up the, erhm, committee for a workers erhm international!

You guys! :)

WorldbyStorm - May 1, 2010

Ableson, this is getting tired. Any more and I block the IP address.

I’ve asked before, I won’t again. There’s going to be no coat trailing across the floor of the CLR. From any quarter.

A. Abelson - May 1, 2010

Ah, do what you feel WBS. The KKE gets half a million votes and is actively working to resist the all-out assault on the lives of Greek workers – and we all know it’s Greece today, Portugal tomorrow, Spain after that – and what’s the opening two comments on this post? One a link to the Fourth international, the next a public service infomercial from an Irish Trotskyist going it’s all well and good to have left unity, but have you heard the KKE on Hungary 1956?

Then we get a bloody youtube comment from Mr. Left Unity himself with him going “see? See?”

THEN, we get another comment from someone going, “well I never!”

Maybe you think I’m flaming here. Maybe, just maybe, I’m reacting to this palpable ignorance with the only weapon possible against such nonsense, which is sarcasm. Maybe you don’t see the humour in sectarian ultra-leftists calling the Stalinist kettle black, but I certainly do. I think it’s hilarious myself.

yourcousin - May 2, 2010

Not to fan the fire (as way of apology to WBS) but the “well I never” comment is grounded in some hard realities for me. My family went out in ’56, my wife’s family went out in ’56. My mother in law grew up writing “give us bread, work and a rope to Kadar Janos” on walls in Budapest. I had family killed by the Russians. My brother in law was arrested by the Russians, my late father in law was arrested and tortured by the Russians, along with both of my mother in law’s sibling (Uncle Ivan and Aunt Eme). So yes to see someone claim ’56 as a facist revolution pisses me off.

8. ejh - April 30, 2010

Meanqhile, on the side-issues:

I was reading the BBC piece on the proposed cuts and was struck by this:

Union officials claim that as part of the new tranche, the IMF wants Athens to raise sales taxes, scrap bonuses amounting to two extra months of pay in the public sector, and accept a three-year pay freeze.

I was struck by it because my wife, when working as a schoolteacher in Spain – and in Spain, schoolteachers are civil servants – was paid in fourteen tranches every year, not twelve, which meant that twice a year she essentially received double her normal pay. This wasn’t a “bonus”, this was (and is) the normal system: the reasoning was that August and Xmas are holiday periods. Which is odd, but the oddity is not to modernise it and spread it out equally over the twelve months: it wasn’t two extra months’ pay. The “double” payments weren’t bonuses, they had precisely the same status as February’s pay, or October’s, or any other.

Now I don’t know whether the system in Greece is the same, but if it is, watch out for that word “bonus”, especially in a context where it’s being assumed that to work in the civil service is to participate in an organised fraud.

Damomac - May 1, 2010


You’re right. There are no “bonus” salaries in Greece. Like Spain, all employees in Greece, be they in the public or private sector, are paid their salary/wages in 14 payments: one of these payments is at Christmas, and the other divided between Easter and summer.

The system was introduced in 1945 and I’m looking into what the justification was at the time.

Sadly, the Greeks got into the habit of referring to the 13th and 14th salaries as the “δώρο” or “gift”. The world’s media now present this as an unfair bonus.

Tomorrow morning we’ll know what the IMF/EU/Commission troika has demanded from the Greek government. From what the media here has been saying, it’s looking very likely that public sector workers will lose their 13th and 14th salaries.

My wife’s a teacher so that’s about 2,500 euros gone. She’ll now be left with twelve monthly payments of 1,200 euros. That works out at a 15% pay cut.

All hell is going to break out here!

WorldbyStorm - May 1, 2010

Interesting point. I was reading your very interesting blog. More, please… :) Sounds like just the time for a Gael in Greece to be writing. It also got me thinking. It’s amazing how off the radar Greece in the late 60s/early 70s was.

sonofstan - May 1, 2010

As your example illustrates, salaries in Greece are really low compared to the EU average. So the idea of a ‘bloated’ public sector has even less traction than here. Add to that a really small university sector, which forces a fairly large proportion of the middle-class – or those with aspirations – to send their kids abroad to college, and routine corruption which involves finding bribes for all sorts of things, and – my impression, admittedly from a few years back – the average Greek family simply has no scope for absorbing austerity.

People survive as it is with a great deal of family solidarity, and a lot of things that we in Ireland have forgotten about – Athens is even more sprawlingly suburbanised than Dublin, but the sprawl is not covered in decking and white plastic furniture – Greeks grow food and keep pigs in suburbia: as well as maintaining contact with their ‘home’ village for supplies. And many people work two jobs to put their kids through college, to build a house etc.

And of course, salaried employees are among the few that actually pay their full whack of taxes….

WorldbyStorm - May 1, 2010

Well, there’s a nasty smell of people being beaten back to where some think they ‘should be’ in terms of this discourse on those salaries – and no end of veiled, and sometimes not so veiled, xenophobia. There’s also something a little irritating about the way in which Germany is being played off Greece (admittedly by some German pols and commentators) given the level of social benefits that exist in Germany. I think your point and damomacs about the realities of life in Greece are sobering.

9. Mark P - April 30, 2010

Here, by the way, is a more recent article from Xekinima. It’s a joint statement with the CWI groups in Portugal, Spain and Germany.


HAL - April 30, 2010

Jeez I just hope someone does’nt come on now to explain that this is Trotskiest,and post a few links to a critique.

Mark P - April 30, 2010

They can if they like though they probably won’t bother, given that I pointed out the affiliations of the group myself.

10. Garibaldy - April 30, 2010

I’m not really sure what happened with this thread. I put it up purely for information’s sake, so that people could easily access some up-to-date information from Greece in English to balance what we are getting in the media here. I added the quotes from the website to puff the piece out a bit more than anything else, otherwise it would have consisted of one sentence with a link in it. I’ve also made mention in the main text of the links provided offering different viewpoints. I really don’t see what is to get so het up about.

11. WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2010

No reason for division on this issue. All that needs to be said is that there are at least two, and no doubt more if we throw in serious social democrats, anarchists and so on, organisations operating on the left in Greece and that some of these belong to differing strands of Marxist-Leninism. It’s perfectly okay to point out affiliations, but probably best to not put a negative slant on them. People can work out for themselves which group they’d identify with. Frankly, I think both the KKE and SYRIZA have many laudable qualities.

I don’t think Garibaldy was being misleading at all in his initial post (not least since he and I and other here have always made it clear that we’re entirely open for anyone to write posts and in this instance all that would need to be done is email me and tell me that a post on SYRIZA and attendant orgs could be posted up – albeit shorn of value judgements about other orgs).

12. Fergal - April 30, 2010

Whatever plan the EU,ECB+the IMF come up with you can already hear the rich and powerful here saying either
1 isn’t our austerity programmme fab for keeping us “afloat”
2″ We” need more austerity measures otherwise this state will end up like Grece.
It’s not all Greek to the Irish boss class

WorldbyStorm - April 30, 2010

Sin é.

13. Pope Epopt - April 30, 2010

I’m happy to say all that infighting went completely over my head.

Meanwhile from a European-wide Keynesian proposal from the ETUI over at the Irish Left Review has this interesting statistic about Greek workers:

For Greece has not – as is often claimed or implied – lagged behind Germany in raising productivity: on the contrary hourly labour productivity increased more than twice as fast in Greece than Germany during the ten years of the euro since 1999. Nor do frequent claims in the media of Greek ‘laziness’ stand up to scrutiny: average annual working hours are the longest in Europe (and hundreds of hours per year longer than in Germany!). The problem has been with nominal wage and price setting.

14. B - May 1, 2010

Yeoooo, up the Stalinists! *ahem* I mean greek workers! ;)

15. Jim Monaghan - May 2, 2010

The bonus debate reminds me of teh wheeze by our senior civil servants.
Stating the obvious it is a question of who will pay.
Alas, in Greece and here, the truely rich are mobile. Like Smurfit I am sure the Greek shipowners legally live in Monaco.
A little addition to Keynesianism in the EU would be a call for serious sanctions against Monaco (go the full distance and absoirb it into France) Litchenstein etc. Closer to home the Isel of Man and the Channell islands should be tackled.

EWI - May 2, 2010

Closer to home the Isel of Man and the Channell islands should be tackled.

That reminds me, I remember hearing something the other week about (I think it was either AIB or BoI) in connection with a branch in the Isle of Man – and I thought to myself, why do Irish banks have branches in the Isle of Man, exactly?

The EU and the US could do a lot of general good by cracking down on these out-and-out tax little havens.

EWI - May 2, 2010

Gah! – “little tax havens”, obviously.

16. Jim Monaghan - May 2, 2010


More solidarity with Greece including our PbP.
I think most groups/parties will stick with their current allies in other countries. In Ireland where the animosity is not as bad as elsewhere groups like the SWP and SP who are from the Trotskyist family cannot unite so it is not strange that this is similar with parties with much bigger histories of animosity.
It was not my intention to start a flame squabble with my initial link but to show that there were other views. While Greece is obviously important and a harbinger of waht is to happen here (oh the cuts have nor even begun) I prefer to argue within the Irish context.
Moving on can I say that if you do not believe in a revolutionary solution and think that there is a social democrtaic way out of the crisis, a tinkering of the tax system ( I don’t no where we can borrow, without doing what we are told, from given what the markets did to Greece) it must be frightening. I think that Beggs, O’Connor are genuinely frightened by the mess and sincerely think that a fightback will make it worse.

WorldbyStorm - May 2, 2010

Meant to say it’s not your fault at all for initiating anything. You’ve always been one of the most cordial and insightful voices on the CLR.

Re your point, I fear you may be right. Not that there seems to be any appetite here for a revolutionary situation or the know-how to seize it were it to arrive.

17. Garibaldy - May 2, 2010

Yeah, clearly Jim was just adding extra information from another angle rather than trying to start a row.

18. SOULEYMAN IRINEU - May 7, 2010


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,257 other followers

%d bloggers like this: