Greece: Solidarity needed with Vodafone strike

Appeal for international solidarity action on 25 June

Comrades, a very important industrial battle in which Xekinima (CWI in Greece) is heavily involved is taking place in Vodafone, Greece the last days.

A few days, Vodafone sacked a Xekinima member (Harris Sideris) and another collaborator of the organization (Vicky Kostopoulou) who were working in Vodafone through subcontractors.

Harris and Vicky were fired because they were trying to organize subcontracted workers and were members of the special committee that the Pan-Hellenic Workers’ Union of Vodafone had created for that purpose. Vodafone’s Workers Union is one of the very, very few unions that allow subcontracted workers to become members. The union took this decision after a proposal by Xekinima comrades. The chair of the union, Zaklin Gorou, is also a Xekinima member.

After the sacking of Harris, which came a few days after the sacking of Vicky, the majority of his colleagues, stopped working and walked out to discuss how to react to the lay offs. The union called an assembly on the spot and the decision to go ahead with a 24hr strike was taken.

3 days later, the union organized a 24-hour strike, a strike which was very successful, although it was declared illegal by the courts.

The union is in the process of deciding the next steps of the struggle, with a second 24-hour strike on 25 June being the most likely development.

The company probably expected a 24-hour strike but could not have expected such massive participation. An even more serious blow for them is the campaign that Xekinima started in all the main cities. Since 3 June, Xekinima has been organizing protests outside Vodafone shops on an almost daily basis informing workers, making petitions against the sackings, and getting trade union resolutions. claring their support.

In one case, the Union of Athens Bus Drivers, which was in the process of negotiating a contract for the Union with the 3 main mobile phone companies, the Executive Committee of the Union decided to exclude Vodafone from the negotiations on the basis of its anti-working class practices, and demanding the reemployment of the two sacked workers.

The Vodafone Workers’ Union has already decided a second strike for 25 June. And is now in the process of visiting the workplaces to inform and discuss with the workers for the best preparation of the strike, nationally.

In the meantime Xekinima will continue to campaign and organize protests outside Vodafone shops (insidentally most of them are on franchise and not owned by Vodafone itself) on a very regular basis at the same as asking trade unions and community organisations to take up the issue.

You can see on youtube (unfortunately without subtitles) some coverage of the strike and our campaign presented in the main news broadcast of the public TV channel ERT3 (ERT3, after its closure 2 years is self-operated by its workers). In the video, you can see a statement by Nikos Anastasiadis, speaking as a Xekinima member and representative of the campaign against the lay-offs in Salonica (Greece’s second largest city, where ERT3 is located).

Here is the link for the coverage

We ask all readers, especially trade unionists and elected representatives, are urged to undersign the protest letter that we attach and circulate it in their unions.

We also ask socialists and trade unionists internationally to organizing protests outside Vodafone shops, preferably on 25 June.

The company management has been taken aback by the force of the campaign to the extent that the local manager (directly responsible for the two layoffs) was sacked! It is quite clear that a victory in this struggle can be won. This makes, international support to the campaign even more important!

Please send messages of support to

info@pasevodafone.gr

and copies to

contact@xekinima.org

Model protest letter

We were informed that the management of Vodafone Greece, part of the British multinational Vodafone Group, sacked 2 of its workers (Vicky Kostopoulou and Harris Sideris) that “officially” worked for Atlas/Adecco and CQS respectively. In reality, Vicky was working for Vodafone for 2.5 years and Harris was working for Vodafone for 4.5 years through the above outsourcing companies which rent out workers to Vodafone.

The official explanation for the lay-offs was “low output” in the case of Vicky and “violation of security rules” in the case of Harris. In reality, both of them were members of Vodafone’s union committee for the workers that work indirectly for Vodafone through subcontractors – a method that Vodafone is using in order to divide workers, pay them less than the ones that work directly for Vodafone and deny them their right to organize in their union.

So, their sacking was an act of persecution against trade union rights.

Vicky’s monthly salary was €560 euros for 40 hours of work per week and Harris’ was €330 euros for 25 hours of work per week. These wages are scandalous, especially given the fact that Vodafone Greece had profits of €203 million (before taxation) in 2013-2014 and Vodafone Group is the world’s second largest telecommunications company with €81,57 billion profits in 2014 alone.

The Pan-hellenic Workers’ Union of Vodafone responded to the lay offs with a solid 24-hour strike on 5 June and is now in the process of deciding the next steps to the struggle. At the same time a broad solidarity campaign is taking place, with protests outside local Vodafone shops in a number of Greek cities and a growing number of trade unions issuing statements of support to the struggle.

We express our full solidarity with the sacked workers and the struggle of Vodafone Workers’ union for an end to the outrageous method of outsourcing that divides workers and drives all of them in a race to the bottom, creating obstacles to their unionization.

We demand:

-the reinstatement of Harris Sideris and Vicky Kostopoulou

-an end to the abject status of outsourcing companies – for the hiring of subcontracted workers directly to Vodafone, for which they actually work

-decent and humane working conditions

-Vodafone to sign a Collective Bargaining Agreement, which it refuses to.

We declare that we will do everything we can make this scandalous stance of Vodafone known to national and international public onion.

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