About the anti-labour Georgiadis law

translated from “Workers Struggle”, October 2023, monthly newspaper of O.K.D.E

We won’t live like slaves

Down with the anti-labour Georgiadis law

On September 21st, the Mitsotakis government passed the “Georgiadis” bill on labour matters, (now is called “law 5053”) which regulates and complements in a reactionary direction a lot of previous provisions and laws, even the infamous law 4808/2021 of Hatzidakis. Despite Georgiadis’ triumphalism about the “acceptance” of a “beneficial” bill for the workers, the reality is completely opposite. This is a profoundly reactionary law that not only intensifies the bourgeoisie’s attack on workers, but it is a qualitative upgrade to abolish labour law and the core of workers’ rights and conquests. More specifically, it aims to abolish the protection net of the worker who is the weakest part in any employment relationship and replace it with the logic of the unconditional support of the employer’s profit. This character of the law needs to be emphasized in contrast to other critical approaches which consider it as a merely “another attack on the working class”.

The bankrupt Greek Capitalism does not aim at any organisation of the productive model, let alone reconstructing it, nor does it tolerate legislation that regulates labour relations in this direction and therefore provides any rights and protection to the workforce. Immersed itself in a solvent crisis, but also taking advantage of the crisis of the labour movement, it has a unique plan to seize wealth through privatization and the looting of state money from European aid. In order to survive, it constantly attacks the workers, the poor strata and the youth. A permanent class war is the program of the Mitsotakis government, with the consolidation of the New System of Exploitation, a new wave of impoverishment, the continuation of taxation on the working class, the poor and the youth. This is the purpose of the Georgiadis law as well, and all that is heard about its provisions that supposedly ensure the rights of workers are nothing but shameless lies. Behind the “nice words” their monstrous intentions emerge:

1) Weakening of collective agreements and attempt to establish individual agreements. The main objective of the new law is the consolidation of the managerial right and at the same time the loss for the employee of any possibility that existed to control and regulate the working conditions. The provision of the zero-hours contracts was withdrawn but “bespoke contracts” for “emergencies” remain. In other words, it enslaves the worker waiting to be called to work whenever and wherever the employer wants, in a relationship in which the worker has no means to defend their rights. Combined with the facilitation of dismissal without reason, notice and compensation within the first year of employment, extreme individualization is imposed on workers, job insecurity is legitimized, and modern slave markets are institutionalized.

2) A direct attack on one of the greatest conquests of the working class, the 8-hour shift and a clear pursuit of no wage raise. This is hidden behind the declarations of the so called “right” to additional work up to 13 hours per day, beyond the conventional 40-hour-work per week while they are trying to sweeten the pot by increasing (30%) the daily wage of the 6th working day. Under the pretext that many workers in order to cope with poverty and meager wages, work without employment contracts and illegally beyond 8 hours per day, this situation is legalized so that the worker “can”, as if it is his individual desire, work up to 13 hours per day, at more than one employer. This “extra” income will quickly turn out not to be working for peanuts. In essence, to make ends meet we will have to work all day for the same meager salary.

Combined with the existing provisions of the Hatzidakis law on individual employment contracts and the arrangement of working time, i.e., its extension, we are led to a situation where we will literally live to work instead of working to live. Institutionalizing the digital work card does not solve any problem. With its application, employers are exempted from the obligation to officially announce overtime in advance, they gain the right to unilaterally modify the schedule and can inform employees of the obligation to work overtime even at the last minute, without the possibility of refusal, acknowledging the additional hours as legal overtime rather than illegal overtime (which exceeds the maximum working hours and demands higher payment). Along with the institutionalization of the 6-day work, obviously without the mandatory consent of the workers, sweatshop working conditions are formed from which it is impossible for each worker to escape.

3) The pinnacle of all these and the necessary culmination are the enacted anti-union provisions, in essence the legalization of the strike. The so-called “protection of the right to work” is a blow to unionism and workers’ struggles. Strike protection and picket lines are criminalized with heavy penalties of at least 6 months in prison and fines, while even alleged “psychological violence” against those who “wish to work” is criminalized, a provision which is deliberately vague and can be interpreted in many ways just to terrorize the strikers.

4) The reinstatement of every three-year 10% raise for private sector employees, which had been frozen with the 2nd Memorandum of 2012, is a disgusting lie and a mockery of the workers. This only concerns those paid with the minimum wage of €780 gross or those who are expressly provided for by their Collective Labour Agreement  (very few employees now), while the period 2/14/12 – 12/31/23 is removed from their actual work background! This increase will be offset by any higher wages, so in reality, and perhaps with changes for the worse, very few workers may get increases in the distant future – nothing but peanuts considering the wave of inflation and the fact that this law from 1/1/ 2027 will be cancelled if unemployment rate is over 10%!

Georgiadis has the audacity to present his law and the provisions for additional work and pay as an opportunity for workers! The inhumane and hypocritical logic of enslaving workers in the name of the real need for a wage increase has nothing to do with the defence of labour rights – quite the opposite. An attempt is made to present this situation as a free choice of the worker for higher income, as his individual right, against the collectively won rights of the working class and the collective protection of workers. Their aim is to present the absurdity of individual negotiation with the employer as rational, as if the individual employee has the same bargaining power as their bosses. All is done to submit to the dead-end logic of working all day for a pittance, while the more you work, the less you get.

We will not live like slaves! With our own strength and struggles, with the unity of our class against the attack we receive, with a transitional anti-capitalist program of claims. Building the political power within the workers that will fight for this program so as to be adopted by the majority of the working class. For a Workers’ Government, the only one that can impose it, in a Europe of its workers and their struggles.


21st September strike:

The Reformulation and reconstruction of the trade union movement is the only solution to counterattack the imposed “middle age” in labour.


On September 21st, the strike against the anti-labour Georgiadis’ bill took place. Having already passed the monstrous anti-labour law of Hatzidakis in the previous governmental term, the  ND (New Democracy) government, faithful to the pre-election announcements on the “rewriting of the labour law” launched a terrifying attack on the rights and conquests of workers under the pretext of implementing a EU Community directive on “the provision of working conditions”. In summary, the Georgiadis Law brings about the abolition of the 8-hour shift, it legalizes the 13-hour work shift on different employers, it establishes the 6-day work and criminalizes strike protection with heavy prison sentences of at least 6 months. It is a clearly reactionary law that attempts to further dismantle labour law, the labour market and the rights won by workers’ struggles in previous decades. It is nothing more than the enactment of a situation long known to the workers, which, especially after the attack of the Memoranda, has been spread. Along with the uncontrollable inflation, the labour market turns into a modern slave market, where workers will be pawns to the whims of each employer. Such is their anger towards the workers, that they rush to make strikes illegal, even those that had not even been declared (!), such as the one that the union of public means of transport (SELMA) is planning.

Despite the magnitude of the disaster that this law signals, the union’s bureaucracies have once again proven themselves to be inferior to the circumstances. Disappointing was the attitude of the GSEE (General Workers’ Confederation), which did not comment anything negative about the bill, but just filed objections to some points of the law, characterizing it in general as beneficial and therefore it did not even call a strike! This is another step in the downfall of the trade union bureaucracy that is engulfing the largest social organization of workers in the country, constantly trying to turn it into a pawn in every anti-labour government and in the bourgeois state in general. On the other hand, PAME (the Communist Party) once again indulged itself in ultra-left statements, talking about an “all-workers’ uprising” while they tried to transform the strike in their well-known party parades. Once again, in the unions that they control, they called for strike without the workers’ participance (through decisions made at meetings of these unions away and without the workers). Nevertheless, indicative of the situation that prevails within the PAME/KKE is its inability to bring any significant mass of people beyond the unions that controls and is always away from the gatherings of workers and their unions. This is also clear from the half-hearted speeches with which they presented in their strike rallies, especially if one considers that KKE itself claimed to have “promoted” the strike. Once again, KKE proved that  strikes and struggles have a decorative role in its political agenda, they are somewhere in the background of its “feisty” questions and proposals in the parliament. The image of the crisis of the organized trade union movement was completed by the laxness shown by many unions and labour centres in  calling for a strike or even making an announcement against the anti-labour law. As for the forces of the far-left movement, loyal to the territorial struggle with the bureaucracy, they also called at a different point from the workers’ bodies/unions.

OKDE and its workers’ fraction (Workers’ Counter-attack) participated in the strike rallies in Athens, Thessaloniki, Ioannina and Patras by calling to the gathering points of the local Labour Centres and ADEDY (General Confederation of civil servants), having no illusions about their bureaucratic nature and role but proposing a unifying attitude on the street. However, as long as the labour and trade union movement do not overcome their weaknesses, the anti-labour attacks and the uprooting of every democratic right and freedom will be intensified. To overcome these weaknesses, OKDE is fighting for the reformulation and reconstruction of the labour and trade union movement.