Greek public broadcasting company ERT closed –nearly 3000 workers dismissed: a brutal attack

{(12 June 2013) } The Greek government closed the public broadcasting company ERT, 11 June 2013. TV screens went black. Radio stations stopped their emissions. Without notice nearly three thousand workers found themselves without a job, their lives wrecked, their families in misery, their communities hurt and Greek society deprived of a public good: the public broadcasting that ensures diverse, inclusive programs and connects regional stations, focusing on culture and many others issues. Public broadcasting is a pillar of democracy. The company was furthermore going through a process of modernization in which the workers were making efforts to move forward, their efforts betrayed and in vain. {“We condemn this attack on workers. All principles of what we believe Europe stands for are violated: respect for workers and their jobs, their collective agreements, for social dialogue, for information and consultation. This brutal attack on public services and public goods is symbolic of what Europe is now associated with: austerity, unemployment, dismantling of public services and decisions that are imposed"}, says {{Jan Willem Goudriaan}}, EPSU Deputy General Secretary. This closure of the public broadcasting company could set a serious precedent for other public broadcasting companies in countries affected by Troïka imposed austerity measures. Together with ADEDY, EPSU’s Greek affiliate, our colleagues of UNI-MEI and many others we demand the Greek government to reverse its decision. We expect the European Commission to intervene as the legal instruments are in place to do so. EPSU will write to the Greek government. The workers of ERT are organized in the union Prospert, member of EPSU’s sister federation UNI-MEI. {{{UPDATES}}} {(12 June) } {{ADEDY informs us that the workers in ERT have adopted a resolution stating the following:}} “{ERT must be open to the society, to the contradictions, the problems, the anxieties, the ideas and the actions of the society. ERT must be open to the civilization, to the different cultural trends, searches and cultural dynamic. ERT is the property of all Greek citizens. All those who elaborate plans aiming to the closure of ERT, intended to facilitate other type of interests and they are dangerous. The journalists working in the Public RadioTV, we declare that we keep ERT open by any means. We call the citizens, the social and political actors, the world of culture to demonstrate today 12th June at 19.00pm at Radiomegaro of ERT . We do not step back. ERT is and will remain open}” {(12 June p.m.)} ADEDY and GSEE, the two confederations, have called for a rally in support of the sacked workers of the company ERT at 18.00 today. A 24h general strike is planned for 13 June with a demonstration at 11.00 at the site of ERT {(12 June p.m.)} {{European Commission justifies dismissal ERT workers and gives notice to Europe’s public service workers}} The European Commission published a press release on the closure of the Hellenic Broadcasting Company (ERT). Our comments: -* In the statement the European Commission argues that “The decision of the Greek authorities should be seen in the context of the major and necessary efforts that the authorities are taking to modernise the Greek economy. Those include improving its efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector”. The European Commission is giving notice to millions of public service workers in Europe. Rather than act as a guardian of European social values, the European Commission gives an alibi to governments and companies to behave in a brutal way if only they argue that they “modernize their economy” and improve the efficiency and “effectiveness of the public sector.” Workers in fire-stations, hospitals, schools, public companies in waste, water, electricity, gas and so many more public services do now know that there is little to expect from this European Commission when their employer goes after them and puts them on the streets. -* The Commission refers to the legal framework but refuses to act in the face of blatant violation of information and consultation rights. Compare this to how quick Commission President Barosso was to condemn the nationalization of the Spanish company Repsol by the Argentine government. -* The European Commission says its supportive of public broadcasting as an integral part of European democracy. However it fails to condemn that democracy is threatened now this company is taken out, closed, its workers dismissed and media pluralism attacked. The continuity of the service is violated and hence the Greek government violates the Public service Protocol of the Treaty. -* The European Commission has the instruments to act but fails to use them. Compare this with how the Commission does act in cases of cartels and treats to competition. The Commission would burst into offices of companies at the crack of dawn confiscating materials and interrogating staff. A sharp contrast with its lack of will to fight for Social Europe. - [For the Commission release->] {(13 June)} {{How the privatisation of water and the closure of ERT hang together}} The ERT, the Hellenic Public broadcasting company, is much appreciated by Greek people. It provides quality broadcasts in sharp contrast to most of the private sector. These private stations operate without much judicial oversight and do not pay to the Greek state for the use of the frequencies, a loss of income to the state. One of the private TV stations that might hope to enter the space left is MEGA. Its principal shareholder is Ellaktor. This is one of the companies that in association with the French company Suez Environment has offered a bid for the Thessaloniki Water and Sewage company (EYATH). The closure of the ERT has a causality. The ERT has made a documentary about the privatisation of water to which the campaign group Save Greek Water had contributed. It will now not be shown and the Greek people deprived of alternative and critical information that contradicts the policies of the government. Opinion polls in Greece have shown that water privatisation is deeply unpopular.
- [ETUC expresses solidarity->] - [For the Press Release of UNI-MEI->] - [For an eye-witness account->] - EPSU letters
- A statement from the President of the intergroup on public services of the European Parliament condemning the decision of the Greek government
- Message of support of EPSU member CGSP (in French)
- Letter of ETUC to Commissioner Andor (20 June)