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Written contribution of the KKE to the 20th IMCWP
on: “The contemporary working class and its alliance. The tasks of the political vanguard – the Communist and Worker’s parties – in the struggle against exploitation and imperialist wars, for the rights of the workers and of the peoples, for peace, for socialism”.
1. THE WORKING CLASS TODAY.
The attention of the Communist and Worker’s Parties in their 20th International Meeting is focused on the contemporary working class. In recent years, the bourgeois and petty bourgeois line of argumentation, which questions in turn either the revolutionary role of the working class or its very existence, is growing stronger. In fact, some even go as far as seeking “new revolutionary subjects”. These viewpoints interpret in their own way the technological discoveries of the new era, i.e. the enhancement of IT and robotics, which are presented as a “breakthrough” and a “new industrial revolution” in the society. Data of bourgeois statistics are presented supplementary to the above changes, which demonstrate a reduction of employment in a number of traditional industrial branches and an increase of the employment of the workers in the “services” sector. Thus, bourgeois and opportunists are “getting rid of” the working class and their fear, which is the prospect of the intensification and escalation of the class struggle, the establishment of the workers’ power.
The “trap” that this notion is hiding about a “post-industrial society” lies, on the one hand, upon the fact that it addresses society on the basis of the technological level of the means of production and not of the relations of production. On the other hand, it mistakenly equates the industry with the sector of “manufacturing”. It considers as working class only the section of the manual workers or those working in manufacturing, while it places its other sections, e.g. salaried scientists that do not hold key management positions and that meet the Leninist criteria of belonging to the working class, in the middle social strata. At the same time, it utilises the objective fact that, due to capitalist development, the proportion of the labour power in manufacturing is falling as a percentage of the total labour power, but also of the manufacturing product calculated in value as a percentage of the total GDP, thus drawing the unscientific conclusion about the “end of the working class”.
In reality, however, what is really important and was at the center of the scientific studies of the founders of scientific communism are the relations between capital and salaried labour, i.e. between the bourgeois class and the proletariat. This is no coincidence, since the relation between capital and salaried labour is “the axis on which our entire present system of society turns”. Any scientific and technological change cannot negate that the capitalists are forced to employ labour power in order to set in motion the means of production, which are under their own ownership, aiming the maximum possible profit. The “consumption” of the labour power of the working class is what produces new values, a part of which does not return to the direct producers in the form of salary – wage – social security – pension etc., but it is transformed into profit for the capitalist as surplus value. So, the labour power is the only commodity that, when consumed, creates a higher value than its own. This was the case 200 years ago, even today, despite any changes.
As it is also the case that the basic characteristic of the working class is that is deprived of the means of production and is forced to sell its labour power (the capacity to do work) to the class owning the means of production, the class of capitalists.
In addition, the Marxist notion accepts as industrial any branch of social production where value and hence surplus value is produced, e.g. in IT and telecommunications, in transport, which are classified as services according to the bourgeois statistics. Marx, in his work “Capital”, mentions that the limits of the industrial activity in capitalism are clearly wider that those of the traditional branches of “manufacturing” as included in the bourgeois statistics. In the second volume of Capital, it is cited that: “But there are certain independent branches of industry in which the product of the productive process is not a new material product, is not a commodity. Among these only the communications industry, whether engaged in transportation proper, of goods and passengers, or in the mere transmission of communications, letters, telegrams, etc., is economically important […] What the transportation industry sells is change of location […] The useful effect can be consumed only during this process of production. It does not exist as a utility different from this process […] But the exchange-value of this useful effect is determined, like that of any other commodity, by the value of the elements of production (labour-power and means of production) consumed in it plus the surplus-value created by the surplus-labour of the labourers employed in transportation […] Industrial capital is the only mode of existence of capital in which not only the appropriation of surplus-value, or surplus-product, but simultaneously its creation is a function of capital”.
Here, we could note that Engels underlined the special role of the industrial proletariat due to its place in production, its concentration at the workplaces and the cities and its ability to organise itself: “The first proletarians were connected with manufacture, were engendered by it […] We shall find the same order again among the industrial workers, and shall see how the factory-hands, eldest children of the industrial revolution, have from the beginning to the present day formed the nucleus of the Labour Movement, and how the others have joined this movement just in proportion as their handicraft has been invaded by the progress of machinery”.
The process of capitalist development, of the concentration and centralisation of capital, leads objectively to the development of the working class, the sharpening of the basic contradiction between capital and salaried labour power, the developments of the class struggle and the formation of the new revolutionary subject, i.e. the working class and its vanguard, the revolutionary workers’ party (the CP).
The strength of the working class as the leader of the socialist revolution is not determined by its size, but by the place it occupies in the system of social production. “The strength of the proletariat in any capitalist country is far greater than the proportion it represents of the total population. That is because the proletariat economically dominates the centre and nerve of the entire economic system of capitalism, and also because the proletariat expresses economically and politically the real interests of the overwhelming majority of the working people under capitalism”.
Thus, we can say that it is natural that the branches of the productive activity, which are separated on the basis of the production of different use-values, evolve and change over time. Over the last three decades, branches such as information technology (IT) and telecommunications have experienced a rapid growth. However, industrial concentration does not coincide with the course of specific branches that may bloom or be in decline. Today, we can talk about the IT industry, the telecommunications industry, the transport industry etc. Regardless of whether this case concerns the production of new material products, the transmission of information or the movement of commodities, in all cases there is a capitalist relation, there is exploitation of salaried labour to produce value and surplus value. Therefore, in these sectors the salaried labour power, the working class, is the basic productive force. We consider that the classical definition of the classes given by Lenin still remains fully valid: “Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated in) to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it. Classes are groups of people one of which can appropriate the labour of another owing to the different places they occupy in a definite system of social economy”.
The above consist a "cornerstone" for KKE's approach and assessment that the working class is the main and ever-growing productive force. Workers who are obliged to live by selling their labour force, who are deprived of the possession of means of production and existence, who are paid in the form of wages or salaries, who have an executive role irrespective of the branch they work at and the type of work they do, belong to the ranks of salaried workers. Of course, at the same time, our Party studies any changes concerning the composition, the educational level, the labour relations etc.
2. THE ROLE OF THE WORKING CLASS
The working class is the main productive force. The concentration and centralisation of capital in large monopoly groups also entails the concentration of labour force and the socialisation of labour and production, making the working class the centre and the core of production and the economy in general, especially in branches of strategic importance such as energy, telecommunications – IT, transport, branches producing means of production, etc.
The working class is the only social force that does not own means of production but produces most of the wealth of the capitalist society. It is the class that objectively can lead the struggle for the abolition of private ownership in the means of production, the only class that has an interest in aligning the relations of production in the development of the productive forces with the socialisation of the means of production. The workers' state (the dictatorship of the proletariat), on the basis of the socialisation of the means of production, centrally plans the proportional development of production, in order to meet the social needs. Thus, social work falls in line with the motivation for meeting social needs and solves its contradiction regarding the motivation for individual appropriation, for capitalist profit. This is the character of the working class as the only revolutionary force, the vehicle of communist relations in prospect with the classless society.
Contrary to the working class, its allies, the poor farmers and the self-employed, occupy such a place in the system of social production that predetermines their inconsistency and wobbling over the struggle to overthrow capitalism and construct socialism. Marx and Engels highlightened in their time that:”Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product”.
Thus, only the labour movement can obtain revolutionary characteristics, can develop into a consistent class-oriented revolutionary movement, while the movements of other popular forces cannot become consistent vehicles that negate private ownership in the means of production.
In conclusion, we can note that the working class due to its own position in the social production is objectively the motor force for the passage to a superior way of production and organisation of society, by overthrowing the capitalist system and constructing the socialist - communist society.
Of course, nowadays, the efforts to develop the anti-capitalist struggle and the struggle for workers’ power must refute views and constantly renewed pressures by opportunist and bourgeois political forces or even by politically manipulated working-popular masses on resigning from the historical mission of the working class and on pursuing political management solutions “within the capitalist walls” in the name of the famous national unity. These appeals subdue the interests of the working class and the great popular majority to the interests of the exploiting minority, the bourgeoisie. Their danger grows in conditions of realignments of the imperialist pyramid, destabilisation of imperialist alliances and the emergence of new ones, in conditions of crisis of the governmental bourgeois parties and the emergence of new ones, in conditions of resurgent confrontation between bourgeois liberalism and social democracy, between bourgeois parliamentarism and fascist or military dictatorship, between bourgeois modernisation and religious - racial and other anachronisms.
The struggle against illusions that through parliamentary reforms and the gradual improvement of the electoral correlation of forces, through a "left" governmental management of capitalism, there can be a passage to socialism, still remains as the main issue of the ideological-political struggle in the ranks of the labour movement.
Both the theory and history of the Communist movement prove that the proclamation of the socialist character of the revolution and power is impotent when it is in practice penetrated by transitional governmental goals in the framework of capitalism, in the name of the prolonged economic crisis, the intensification of state and employer-led violence, the intimidation against the labour and communist movement, the Nazi-fascist violence, the suspension of parliamentary procedures, the threat or conduction of an imperialist war. The everyday political and ideological struggle for all issues must never be distracted from the main revolutionary political task of the struggle for labour power. In the next period, the EU's and Euro-zone's cohesion problems, the strengthening of the BRICS, the US interventions to consolidate their positions in Europe and Asia, will create conditions that will re-update the importance of – the crucial for the revolutionary movement - linking of the struggle against all forms of capitalist management and against imperialist war with the struggle for labour power.
3. THE ALLIANCE OF THE WORKING CLASS
The overthrow of capitalism, which will be led by the working class, is also in the interests of the popular strata, provides solutions to the right to work, to all the social rights of the self-employed, the individual commodity producer, to the prospect of integrating them into direct social labour. The proletariat – which it is the only one that can express the general interests of the workers – can and must unite in the struggle against the monopolies important sections of the population from the scattered and wavering masses of the non-proletarian strata.
The Social Alliance in an anticapitalist–antimonopoly direction is comprised of social forces, which are determined on the basis of their position in relation to the prevailing mode of production, without gender of age discrimination. Women and youth belong to specific social forces, while the social position of those sections of them that do not participate in production is determined by their family background.
Certainly, the social alliance cannot remain static, it will be developing in accordance with the specific phase of the movement and the correlation of forces, it will also present other forms, it will be growing and rearranging in terms of movement, of real motion of the masses, strengthening and deepening the anticapitalist-antimonopoly aims of the alliance, continuously expanding its reach.
It is an issue of constant struggle and efforts for the popular sections of the middle strata, as potential allies of the working class and for their respective movements to be drawn to a greater or lesser extent actively into the revolutionary struggle and other sections must at least be rendered neutral.
The radical rallies in an anticapitalist-antimonopoly direction must not be treated statically, but as a part of the dynamic of the class struggle which is not one-sided or linear. The depth of the anticapitalist-antimonopoly content of the struggle is not the same in every phase, something that is reflected in the forms that will be taken by the alliance, which will develop.
Our Party sees the Social Alliance - due to its own character - as an alliance of social forces, movements – i.e. it is neither a form of cooperation between parties nor a form of cooperation of the KKE with mass organisations. To the extent that other political forces of a petty bourgeois political character are active with their members in the forms of rallying of the Social Alliance, they will meet together with the communists in common struggle at the level of the movement and an ideological-political struggle will be conducted inside the movement. Any common activity and ideological struggle will be expressed within the ranks and the organs of struggle of the Social Alliance, which is rooted in the workplaces, the General Assemblies of the trade-unions and associations, in the struggle committees in the neighborhoods etc.
The following question arises: Which political line provides a real answer to the problems of the people, the line in favour of the monopolies or the one against their domination? The line supporting the power of the monopolies and capital or the line supporting the power of the working people, who are the creators of all of society's wealth?
The rallying of the majority of the working class in an anticapitalist-antimonopoly line of struggle and the attraction of leading sections of the popular strata will pass through various phases. The working class and popular masses, through the experience of their participation in the organisation of the struggle in a direction of confrontation with capital's strategy, will be persuaded of the need for their organisation and confrontation to take on the character of a full and multi-faceted confrontation against the economic and political dominance of capital. The labour movement, the movements of the urban self-employed and farmers and the form that their alliance takes on with anti-monopoly and anti-capitalist goals, with the vanguard activity of the KKE's forces, in non-revolutionary conditions, constitute the first form for the creation of the revolutionary workers' and people's front in revolutionary conditions.
4. THE WORKING CLASS IN GREECE
The Greek economy entered a phase of weak recovery in 2017. The continuation of this tendency, however, will depend on other parameters particularly on the developments in the international economy.
Over the five year period, GDP - based on the stable rates of 2010 - fell by 10.4%, while in relation to the beginning of the crisis in 2008 the reduction exceeds 26%. In 2015, for the first time after 2007, the industrial production volume index increased slightly by 0.7%, a tendency that continued during the first two quarters of 2016. The dynamic branches of manufacturing were oil production, pharmaceuticals, chemical industry, and basic metals.
The structure of the Greek economy’s sectors has not changed essentially over the last four years. The primary sector has slightly increased its share in new production as a whole: from 3.7% in 2012 to 4% in 2015. Likewise the share of tertiary sector increased from 80.1% in 2012 to 81.8% in 2015. Accordingly, the share of the secondary sector (manufacturing, energy, construction, mining) decreased from 16.2% in 2012 to 15.2% in 2015.
As it is underlined, apart from the general methodological problems regarding the separation into primary, secondary, tertiary sector, the above-mentioned figures are influenced by the fact that bourgeois statistics classifies a series of industrial sectors such as telecommunications and transport in the tertiary sector. This methodological problem is aggravated in Greece due to the fact that shipping (which belongs to transport) has always been the strongest sector of the Greek capitalist economy.
Greek shipping ranks first at an international level, increasing the tonnage of its ships, with a significant share of the international fleet of tankers and bulk carriers and a high degree of workers’ exploitation.
The tendency the number of the employers and of self-employed to be reduced due to the crisis has continued during the past four years while there has been a marginal increase of salaried employees. More specifically the number of employers decreased from 261,000 in 2012 to 248,000 in 2015. The number of self-employed (including farmers as well) decreased from 908,000 to 856,000. The number of employees increased slightly from 2.34 million to 2.35 million. Family members who work in family-owned businesses also decreased from 185,000 to 158,000.
These changes have not caused any remarkable difference as regards the proportions or the shares in employment as a whole: the employers’ percentage/share was reduced from 7.7% to 6.9%, the percentage of self-employed from 24.6 to 23.7% and the percentage of employees increased from 63.4% to 65%. The percentage of family members who work in family-owned businesses has also seen a slight reduction. It should be taken into account that these percentages are not significantly differentiated in relation to the economically active population which, apart from the working population includes also the unemployed, a large section of whom are former salaried employees.
The tendency for the concentration and centralisation of Greek capitalist economy has been reinforced in the period of crisis. After a cycle of buyouts and mergers, the 4 big systemic banks have gathered banking operations as a whole.
A significant increase of the market share of big retail groups has been recorded in the retail sector. In telecommunications three groups (OTE, VODAPHONE, WIND) are practically controlling the market while the second strongest group has concluded a strategic partnership with the third one.
The energy sector is dominated by three large groups in the field of fuels that entirely control oil refining. Concentration in the construction sector has increased significantly with the big groups undertaking smaller projects as well.
In the metal industry, the 2 biggest consortia control almost 2/3 of the sector. Similar developments have been observed in tourism, the food and beverages sector.
International imperialist unions (OECD, IMF, European Commission) as well as the Bank of Greece have estimated a recovery of Greek economy in 2017-2018, with an increase of investments (except construction) with the contribution of the new law on development planning, a recovery based on EU funding, on the acceleration of important privatizations.
They also estimate an increase in exports as a result of an improvement of the Greek economy’s competitiveness, expansion of the service sector (tourism, ship transport) and an increase of domestic consumption caused by the increase of employment and income and by the improvement of credit conditions.
The potential deterioration of the international economic situation and the course of the EU after Brexit constitute factors of uncertainty which can lead to a more negative outcome. Likewise, there are potential negative consequences on tourism and trade due to an aggravation of the refugee issue and the situation in the wider region of Eastern Mediterranean, and the consequences of governmental policies (e.g. increase of indirect taxation, more burdens on popular strata).
These facts underline the uncertainty of bourgeois predictions particularly if the course of the Eurozone deteriorates and centrifugal forces increase.
It should be noted that the realisation of certain major investments will not be easy (e.g. ports, rail transport) unless a mid-term compromise amongst the USA, EU, China and Russia takes place in the wider region.
5. THE SITUATION OF THE WORKING CLASS AND THE GOVERNMENTAL SYRIZA-ANEL POLICIES
In our country, measures that radically changed labour relations, wages, collective bargaining agreements, pensions, social benefits etc. were promoted. The above had been elaborated long before the crisis with the Treaty of Maastricht and particularly since 1993 with the “White Paper”. They concerned all EU countries irrespective of what phase in the cycle of capitalist reproduction they were in. The aim of these capitalist restructurings and the respective anti-labour reforms was to promote capitalist profitability in the framework of the sharpening of international competition. Of course such reforms become more urgent for the capitalist system in periods of crisis.
These strategic plans had been promoted in the long term and methodically by the EU and the bourgeois governments in every country. These measures were accelerated and fully developed, especially in Greece, after 2010 with three packages of measures (memoranda) and 700 anti-people laws in total.
The following objectives are promoted in the framework of the unified strategy:
• Unified policy for the drastic reduction of salaries and wages and the promotion of alternative and part-time forms of employment. Large scale abolition of stable daily working time, of permanent employment in the state sector and of any relatively more stable jobs in the private sector, sweeping changes in labour relations with the reinforcement of flexibility. These policies are part of the strategy for the liberalisation of the labour market in the long term and the tendency to adjust salaries and wages to the low levels which are being formed in the international capitalist market.
• Unified policies for the restriction of welfare and social benefits and above all social security, the expansion of privatisations.
• Policies for the legitimisation of slave trading employment offices and the utilisation of immigrants as cheap manpower and a lever to exert pressure for a general reduction of salaries and wages.
• New restriction on the right to strike, trade-union activity.
• Steady increase of indirect taxation, leading to increases in mass consumer goods (e.g. electricity, food, transportation etc).
The consequences of the economic crisis and the anti-worker measures which were taken with the well-known memoranda and the application laws have caused deep, large-scale and permanent upheavals in the living and working conditions, in the composition of the working class as well as of a large section of the self-employed and the small owners in the urban and rural regions. The ranks of the working class have been expanded with new sections from ruined urban and rural intermediate strata. Several sections of the intermediate strata have approached the working class, the number of semi-proletarians has increased. At the same time, emigration increased, especially among young people.
The restructurings and the crisis shrunk the layer of labour aristocracy in the private and public sector and among state employees. However, the bourgeois class is still interested in maintaining, renewing and creating new mechanisms for the manipulation of the labour movement. There is still a significant differentiation and stratification among the working class and the salaried workers in general that constitutes the material basis for the formation of a labour aristocracy.
Recent data confirms the tendency of absolute destitution to increase amongst the working class. After their dramatic decrease in the period 2009-2012 from 85 million to 66.1 million Euros the total earnings of salaried employees in the period 2012-2015 fell to 59 billion, a further reduction of 10.7% while in comparison with the pre-crisis levels the general decrease exceeds 30%. Apart from the reduction of salaries, the drastic decrease of the total earnings of salaried employees also reflects the sharp increase of unemployment during the crisis.
Based on the data of the Bank of Greece the earnings per employee were reduced by 7% in 2013, by 2.1% in 2014 and 2.7% in 2015. The nominal annual compensation per employee has been reduced from 24,300 Euros in 2012 to 21,800 in 2015, a reduction of 10.3% that followed the cuts of the period 2010-2012 which caused the average annual wage to drop from 26,100 to 24,300 Euros. In constant terms (taking inflation as well into consideration) the reduction of the average wage exceeds 20%. On the basis of the information from IKA (the private sector social security fund), the minimum wage has shrunk nearly 35% since 2010.
In 2014 the purchasing power of the average gross wage in Greece fell from 82% in 2009 to 66% of the average purchasing power in the 15 most advanced countries of the EU. The fall of purchasing power is even sharper if we take into account the heavy taxation over the past years. Taking all these factors into account we can assess that the total losses in the living standards of the working people during the period of crisis amount to or approach 50%.
As a result of the assault on the minimum wage (22% reduction for ages above 35 years and 32% for ages below 25 years) the earnings in 2014 were lower than the minimum wage at the beginning of 1990s.
The laws of the past years continue to lead to a deterioration of the wages, the income and the life of the working class and their families. The following figures outline the difficulties that the working people face, the situation of wages and labour relations.
Low-paid workers make up 60% of the working people. More specifically, workers with a net salary below 1000 Euros amount to 63.17%. At the same time, there is a decline as regards the classification of the working people into various groups. Workers receiving 501-600 Euros increased by 13.24% and those receiving 601-700 Euros by 10.56%.
Labour relations are rapidly deteriorating. In 2015 the percentage of “flexible working relations” (part time employment and employment by rotation) in the new contracts increased to more than 55%, from 29% in 2009 and 45% in 2012. Almost 30% of the workers in the private sector are underemployed, while 20% work less than 20 hours per week. In any case, half of the workers recruited today work under these flexible forms of employment which of course influence the average level of wages.
The average consumption of households in Greece declined by 25% in the period 2010-2014 and decreased to 1,460 Euros from 1,950 in 2010. A more evident differentiation in the nutrition of Greek households has been observed in the same period. More specifically the quantity of the food consumed was differentiated (e.g. meat and fish consumption was reduced by 12%). In 2015 the population facing material deprivation increased significantly to 40% from 24% in 2010.
The general unemployment rate has fallen slightly over the past four years, due to the further expansion of flexible working relations and in 2018 it was at 19.5%. The unemployment rate is very high amongst young people (ages 15-29) being close to 40%. In addition, unemployment is higher amongst women than men.
The SYRIZA-ANEL government claims, for reasons of propaganda, that its orientation regarding the restoration of the country’s capitalist production is different from that of the previous governments. It promotes the slogan of “equitable development” which allegedly has as new elements the turn to innovation and quality, to the utilisation of science and specialised technology for the increase of productivity, the use of the restructured bourgeois state as a lever to promote development and mainly to “support society and the market”.
The government conceals that in capitalism the utilisation of science and innovation for the increase of productivity is not used for the improvement of the workers’ position (increase of income, reduction of working time) but for the increase of capitalist profit. This is proved by the fact that even in states that hold leading positions in the utilisation of new technology and are not in a phase of crisis, e.g. Britain, Germany, USA, income inequality is rapidly increasing.
The SYRIZA-ANEL government rejoiced on August 21st 2018 at the formal exit of Greece from the memoranda and attempted to cultivate a climate of joy amongst the people that now things will change for the better in their everyday lives. They even called this development “a return to normality” and “the beginning of just development”.
The SYRIZA-ANEL government is lying when it speaks of a “new era” after the memoranda, because:
• The hundreds of anti-popular laws have remained! There are commitments to capital and the imperialist associations that the same anti-popular policies will continue, which will benefit the so-called “competitiveness” and “entrepreneurship”, i.e. the increase in capital gains.
• New attacks on people's rights have been accepted and will be implemented over the next years.
• With the so-called “European Semester”, the “Euro Plus Pact”, the “Financial Covenant”, “Enhanced Economic Governance”, just as in other countries that are in the EU, the EU will strictly monitor the continuation and the escalation of the anti-popular attack. In any case, anti-people measures were taken in other countries of the EU that did not have memoranda like Greece did.
But even if there were no oversight by the EU, there would be – as there is in every capitalist society – the “supervision” of big capital, the monopolies and there aims to increase their profitability. For this reason, there can be no “just development” under capitalist conditions.
In fact, the government claims that they will gradually “correct injustices”, that they will restore the collective bargaining agreements. And that, after rejecting the proposal made by 530 Labour Centers, Federations and Trade-unions for the Collective Bargaining Agreements, for the National General Collective Agreements with restoration of the minimum wage at 751 Euros that was tabled in Parliament by the KKE.
Therefore, the truth is that the governmental policies do not lead to a partial recovery of the losses that the popular strata suffered during the crisis. On the contrary, they worsen the position of the people. At the same time, the declarations of the government regarding the effective state conceal the fact that the bourgeois state operates in favour of capital and as a consequence any adjustments made to it aim at increasing the effectiveness of its activity in favour of capital. This is the target served by the squeezing of the people through taxation and the cuts in social policy as well as of the state aid to domestic business groups and capitalist profitability in general.
The increase of indirect taxes, the reduction of the tax free threshold, the upholding of property tax (ENFIA), the reduction of pensions, the increase of social security contributions are characteristic examples of the escalation of the anti-people offensive. As regards the self-employed and farmers, the large increase of their taxes and their social security contributions is combined with a drastic decrease in their turnover leading to the significant deterioration of their position. On the contrary, monopoly groups contribute less than 5% of the annual tax revenues and the government is planning new state aid through the law on development planning.
The developments as a whole are smashing the illusion that capitalism can be managed in favour of the people and that the increase of capitalist profitability can be harmonised with the prosperity of the salaried workers and the self-employed. It has been proved there can be no pro-people policies within the framework of capitalist power, the EU and NATO.
Even more now when a possible new international crisis may have a disproportionally effect to the Greek economy. Internationally, the debt is accumulating, the profitability is at a low level, a great new sector of profitability cannot be found and the imperialist centers resort to the tools of the so-called protectionism – like those implemented by Trump – in order to safeguard the profits of their monopolies. So, the problems are magnifying. The outbreak of a new, deeper crisis of capital over-accumulation is real. And this prospect, this crisis to encompass the international economy even more, is dominating today. In fact, the great openness of domestic economy in sectors that can be particularly tested by a new international crisis, like Shipping and Tourism, may prove to be the “Achilles heel” of capitalist development in the following period.
6. THE TASKS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY
In these years the leading role of the KKE and the class-oriented unions that struggle within the ranks of the All-Workers' Militant Front (PAME) is especially important, organising the workers', popular struggle, carrying out dozens of strike mobilisations – 70 Pan-Hellenic strikes during the capitalist crisis - hundreds of demonstrations, taking over ministries, and more.
For many years, the dominant line within the trade union movement has been and still is the line of adapting and submitting to EU strategies and class collaboration, defending competitiveness and capitalist profitability. Long-term damage has been done, as the forces of reformism and labour aristocracy have a dominant position in strategic branches, large industrial units and other enterprises (Transport, Banks, Ports, Energy, Telecommunications, State Services, Universities, Education etc.). Any criticism or questioning towards the EU by these forces is often blur due to their theories of "neoliberal politics" or the possibility of correcting the transnational imperialist union and the system from within, without overthrowing the power of the monopolies.
During the decade before the crisis, the intervention of social democracy and modern opportunism in the orientation of organised trade-unionism towards “social partnership” and “social dialogue” had a decisive negative effect. The rationale regarding the end of social conflicts, regarding social co-operation, has been promoted utilising a lot of funds, by institutes, by the creation of Academies in European trade-unions, with “institutional” consultation organs within the large workplaces.
This has done a great deal of damage to the workers' consciousnesses, especially to the organised part of the working class.
The line of anti-capitalist struggle, of the struggle for rupture and overthrow does not currently exert a mass influence in sectors of strategic importance. The adverse situation of the European and international trade union movement has played a negative role in this. On this basis, we draw the conclusion that the change in the correlation of forces and the regroupment of the movement is not restricted to several quantitative changes, but requires radical changes in the content and the orientation of the struggle of the trade union movement.
The establishment of All Workers’ Militant Front (PAME) in 1999 contributed substantially to the line of separation and rupture with the employer and government-led trade-unionism in Greece. Otherwise, the situation would be much worse and harder. PAME as a class-oriented rallying, as a movement based on federations, labour centers, unions, struggle committees and trade-unionists, is an important conquest of the working class and at the forefront of everyday struggles, of the class struggle. Hundreds of trade union organisations are mobilised in the ranks of PAME. The forces that rally in PAME are the second strongest force in the trade union movement, with a percentage exceeding 20%. Dozens of Federations and labour centers, hundreds of trade unions struggle in a class-oriented direction.
6.1. Crucial tasks for the regroupment of the workers’ – trade-union movement objectively arise:
The 20th Congress of our party gave the following definition to the regroupment of the labour movement: “The preparation and development of a labour movement capable of decisively and effectively confronting, in alliance with the popular strata of the self-employed and farmers, the unified elaborated strategy of capital and capitalist power”.
These tasks include:
- Elaboration of struggle demands (on all issues: salary, social security, health-care, working hours etc.) and the choice of forms of organisation and alliance with popular forces.
- Adequate knowledge of the working class’s structure, efforts to overcome the fragmentation that weakens its struggle.
- Accurate and objective assessment of the correlation of forces, of the mood of the masses, of the employers’ tactics and the political forces that act in the trade union movement.
- Daily attention and training is needed, as well as concern and care by the leading organs in order to enhance the initiatives, the daily activity of the communists, especially of the youth, in the workplaces, the sectors, and the trade unions.
- Work at a collective and individual level is required for the formation of bonds with the working class - even in periods when there are no visible results -, bonds which, under specific circumstances, would be converted into an increase in the prestige and influence of the communists.
- We must also have the capability to convincingly reveal - through the ideological confrontation that will develop within the small or large-scale struggles - the mechanisms of exploitation and especially the conditions for their abolition.
We refer to a plan for struggle and gathering forces that will have an anti-capitalist content and integrate specific demands. This plan should be based above all on strong Party Organisations in factories, enterprises, in sectors of strategic importance and dialectically create the conditions for their increase.
6.2. Highlighting the contemporary needs of the working – popular family, the contemporary needs are a chain linking the partial demands with the content of the anti-capitalist struggle.
The trend for contemporary needs to increase is objective. This is due to the modern level of development of the productive forces, the achievements of science and their applications in all sectors.
The struggle for contemporary needs also involves the formulation of demands for the reduction of working hours, the increase of leisure time, of vacation and recreation time. Workers fought for 8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest and 8 hours of leisure and social time and today we have returned to a work program from sunrise to sunset with a 10 or 12-hour workday.
It also involves factors related to the living standards, such as the quality and quantity of nutritional needs, housing and employment conditions, the role of physical education and exercise, healthcare with an emphasis on prevention, the tackling of environmental problems and occupational illnesses, the increase in life expectancy, culture etc. They also involve the necessary infrastructure and means for their satisfaction.
Today, objectively, the satisfaction of contemporary popular needs is possible in every country that has growth potential, technological means, skilled workforce, modern methods to organise production etc.
The difference between our demands and the ones promoted by the bourgeois parties lies not merely in the quantity and quality of the rights, but goes even deeper, thus touching upon the organisation of society itself. So, for example, in terms of health-care, we demand not only better and free health services, but the priority of prevention and timely rehabilitation. In education, we not only demand public and free books at all educational levels, but primarily a radically different content in these books, radically different methods and forms of teaching which must aim at the all-round education of the children.
Similarly, on the question of unemployment, beyond highlighting demands for the protection of the unemployed, we emphasize the issues of stable labour with rights, the potential to reduce working hours and, finally, the conditions for the elimination of unemployment.
In all these together in a unified way, one can find the essence of our view concerning the contemporary needs of the people, knowing of course that, despite the fact that they must be fought for today, their full satisfaction does not “fit” within the framework of capitalism, but requires the socialisation of the concentrated means of production and their integration in the scientific central planning of production.
6.3. Labour movement and imperialist war
An issue of special importance is the struggle against imperialist wars and plans, against imperialist alliances, against nationalism and fascism and this is a key element in our struggle and in the activity of the class-oriented trade unions. We firmly support the international campaigns of the WFTU and those of the trade unions that rally in PAME against NATO, for the closure of US military bases, for solidarity with all struggling peoples, in support for refugees.
Daily political-ideological work is required for the assimilation of the position that in the event of an imperialist war the labour movement must not fight under a false flag, i.e. the flag of the bourgeois class. On the contrary, it should struggle in every instance for the overthrow of the bourgeois class, which as long it exists brings both war and peace with a gun held at the people’s head.
6.4. The KKE highlights the strengthening of the organised trade-union activity as a constituent element of the regroupment
With specific goals such as the following:
- Improving the level of organisation of the working class through the massification of the already existing trade-unions. The total percentage of workers' participation in the trade unions of Greece today does not exceed the 25%, while it is continuously decreasing. There is a retreat also in the organisation and participation of women and immigrants. This is one of the most fundamental problems we have to deal with, i.e. the low level of organisation of the working class. The actual situation is even worse than the one indicated by the official data and statistics. The situation in terms of the level of organisation in the trade union and associations in the movement of the self-employed working people and farmers is even worse.
- Stable functioning of the unions as a basic criterion of the regroupment. This includes the functioning of the union committee itself, the highlighting of the importance and the safeguarding of the General Assembly as a collective examination process that studies the situation in the workplaces and sectors and plans and organises the struggle. Continuous gathering of information as well as the discovery of new ways and forms that facilitate the participation of the working people. The unions in which our forces have the majority must be exemplars of democratic functioning, must address all aspects of the workers’ life.
- Systematic, multi-faceted ideological, political and organisational work to change the correlation of forces in favour of the class-oriented forces.
- Strengthening of the solidarity, the mutual aid and class support of the working class family and each worker. This strengthening has been historically proved that especially in critical situations of crises, mass poverty, unemployment, wars, can be a key element for the activity and concentration of new masses. Often this is underestimated, under the difficulties created by the lack of bonds with the workers and is not utilised as a tool for their improvement. On this issue, specific work with the unemployed and immigrants who are settled in our country is of particular importance.
- Strengthening of the World Federation of Trade Unions at an international and European level, the strengthening of the WFTU sectoral organisations with new trade-unions and federations, the strengthening of initiatives and coordinated struggle, the practical expression of solidarity with the struggles of the workers, the peoples fighting against imperialist interventions and wars.
6.5. On the Party building
Another crucial issue is how a Communist Party acts and builds itself in practice, as a leader of the class struggle, as a leader of the mobilisation of the popular masses around daily issues and also around general issues regarding future prospects, i.e. for the formation of the subjective preconditions in the class-oriented anti-capitalist anti-monopoly struggle for socialism-communism.
We are aware of the fact that the economic struggle on its own does not lead to revolutionary political struggle. Therefore, in the daily struggle concerning the everyday problems of the working class and its social allies, we must not lose sight of the main issue, which is the planned persistent ideological-political struggle for the deeper understanding of the necessity for the complete abolition of exploitation and the construction of a classless society.
The difficulty in the relationship between the party and the labour-trade union movement - both in terms of political practice and as a theoretical issue - flows from the fact that the Communist Party is the highest, conscious form of expression of the labour movement. Consequently, any reference to the movement of the working class must be accompanied by a reference to the communist movement.
However, lower forms of working class organisation exist and will exist both in non-revolutionary conditions as well as in conditions of a revolutionary upsurge and during the period of socialist construction.
The trade unions and the lower forms of organisation in general have an influence and play a role in the organisation and formation of the class consciousness of the working class. For this reason, the constant and decisive intervention of the forces of the communist party within the trade unions, the leading activity for their massification, for the change of correlation of forces, for the creation of new ones are necessary especially in the struggle over the orientation of the labour and trade-union movement, in all conditions, whether revolutionary or not.
Objectively, there are no politically neutral trade unions. Either the line of class collaboration, employer and government-led trade-unionism, the reformist, opportunist current or the line of anticapitalist-antimonopoly struggle will have the upper hand. Consequently, the ideological and political struggle inside the movement is important in terms of achieving the goal of organising a significant section of the working class in an anti-capitalist direction, in order to deepen and widen its bonds with the Party.
For all these reasons, the relationship between the party and mass working class organisations is quite complex in practice. The attempt to formulate this relationship has caused difficulties for the international communist movement and has often been accompanied by absolute approaches and mistakes, both at a theoretical level and in practice.
A basic factor that determines the role and effectiveness of the party in the labour movement, in the class struggle, is party building in industry, in strategically important sectors, in combination with the increase of its strength and influence in the great mass of the working class and especially in its younger sections.
In this framework, the ability to penetrate strategically important sectors and emerging dynamic sectors of the economy is of particular importance.
- Improvement of the percentage of industrial workers in major businesses of strategic importance.
- Improvement of the social composition of the party in terms of the percentage of workers.
- Improvement of the age composition through an increase of recruits from KNE and from the 18-40 age groups.
- An increase of the recruitment of women and improvement of their overall percentage in the party and in the leading organs.
Based on these criteria set by the 20th Congress of the KKE, we evaluate the effectiveness of our intervention in every action, mobilisation and activity.
We strengthen our work in the working class both for the regroupment of the workers' – trade-union movement and the building of a strong social alliance, an alliance of the working class with the small and medium-sized peasants and the self-employed of the city, fighting in an anti-monopoly, anti-capitalist direction. We are doing our best for the regroupment of the international communist movement on a revolutionary basis. Based on these goals we plan our action in a complex period.
We are aware of the difficulties and we are determined to deal with them with suitable organisation, utilising the power of the working class. With our action we create the preconditions for the counterattack of the working class and at the same time the most serious and fundamental precondition for this case: the organisational reinforcement of the KKE above all within the working class.
Now is the time to concentrate forces and organise the struggle against the enterprise monopoly groups, against capitalists and their governments according to a plan that will be based above all on strong organisations of the KKE and KNE in factories, in businesses, in sectors of strategic importance, in electrical power plants, public transportation, telecommunication, ports and airports, shopping centers, health-care units and, at the same time, among the self-employed in urban centers, in the youth’s educational institutions, the places where young people of working class-popular families gather.
We honour the 100 years of our heroic party, the countless people who gave their life for our party by strengthening the KKE. We strengthen internationalist solidarity implementing in practice the slogan “proletarians of all countries, unite!”.
It is necessary to strengthen our struggle in all countries in order for the CPs to become mass workers’ parties that will organise and lead the struggle of the millions of oppressed people for the overthrow of the decayed capitalist system that only breeds poverty, imperialist wars, destruction, and refugees, for the struggle for socialism-communism!
 F. Engels, “Review of Volume One of Capital for the Demokratisches Wochenblatt”
 Karl Marx, “Capital”, ed. “Progress Publishers”, vol. II , p. 30-31
 F. Engels, “Conditions of the Working Class in England”, ed. “Panther Edition”, p. 42
 V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, “The Constituent Assembly Elections and The Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, ed. “Progress Publishers”, vol. 30, p. 253-275
 V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, “A Great Beginning”, ed. “Progress Publishers”, vol. 29, p. 408-434
 K. Marx-F. Engels, “Manifesto of the Communist Party”, ed. “Progress Publishers”, p. 2