Since being laid off in September 2013, nearly 600 cleaners working for Greece's Finance Ministry have become symbols of the resistance to neoliberalism and austerity imposed by the Greek government, now ruled by the conservative New Democracy of Prime Minister Antonis Samaris, on orders from the so-called "Troika"--the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
In July, a Greek court ruled that the cleaners--women who worked in tax and customs offices across the country, many of them in their 50s, so they don't qualify for pensions--must be reinstated immediately since there is no evidence that the layoffs, carried out as part of a privatization drive, were in the best interests of the Greek state. However, the Greek government refused to comply with the order and has appealed the ruling. This month, a higher court will hear the appeal. In the meantime, however, the Finance Ministry continues to rely on private contractors for cleaning.
In this statement, the cleaners call for solidarity actions around the globe to coincide with a week of action around the court case.
We, the 595 cleaners of the Economics Ministry, who lost our jobs on September 17, 2013, propose that you join forces with us and organize for an International Day of Solidarity on September 20, 2014.
We, the 595 cleaners of the Economics Ministry, who had our jobs taken away from us so that they could be given to private sub-contractors, have been fighting the last 11 months against the politics of austerity and against those who are imposing it--i.e., the Samaras government and the Troika.
Every day, we are on the street demanding our jobs and our rights, resisting police intimidation and government propaganda. Although we have been vindicated by the Greek judiciary system, the government is refusing to implement the court's decision.
We are appealing to all residents' associations, social movements, trade unions, women's organizations, political parties and citizens of the world--all of you who don't condone injustice and empathize with its victims--to express your solidarity with our struggle for survival and dignity, which is also your struggle.
We are calling on you to join forces with us and to organize together with us an International Day of Solidarity. We propose that the mobilization takes place between September 15-22--i.e., the week before the court's final decision on the 595 cleaners, which is set for September 23. A possible joint day of action could be September 20.
Actions could include various solidarity activities, like public meetings and mass rallies; mobilizations outside Greek Embassies, the International Monetary Fund offices in Washington, D.C. or the Central European Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany; and anywhere else you choose. We are already preparing for a delegation of the fighting cleaners to join a demonstration at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, either on September 16 or 17.
If you are willing to join this initiative, please let us know, so that we can have a picture of which cities and countries are going to participate.
First published at International Viewpoint.