GSEE annual congress opens in Athens in the shadow of Tempi train accident. (Photo by SOTIRIS DIMITROPOULOS/EUROKINISSI)
ATHENS – The General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), representing private sector employees, opened its 38th Congress in Athens on Thursday with a minute-long silence honoring those who died after the train collision at Tempi, central Greece, last week.
The congress was addressed by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, who was unable to attend in person due to prior commitments. In her letter, Sakellaropoulou acknowledged the changes that have taken place since the first congress by GSEE in 1918, but emphasized the continued importance of decent work and living conditions. She praised GSEE’s contribution to the field of labor and emphasized the role of labor unions in representing employees and serving the interests of society.
GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos announced that the unions will request assistance and technical expertise from European and international labor unions regarding the train collision accident, and will submit research and proposals to relevant agencies. He stressed that lack of transparency, cover-ups, shifting the blame, and delays that lead to oblivion are unacceptable and must not be repeated.
He also spoke about the nearly 13 years of crisis, during which labor has suffered the most, with wage reductions, the abolition of collective agreements, the dismantling of labor laws, and youth unemployment, among others.
The GSEE congress will continue on Friday with speeches, a discussion of the year in review, and future action plans. It will wrap up on Sunday with the election of new representatives.
Nearly 400 attendees are present, representing 120 federations and labor centers. Each attendee represents 1,000 union member votes.
Despite being unable to prevent smugglers in Turkey from sending refugees and migrants to Greek islands and the northern land border along the Evros River, Greece has made significant progress in dealing with human trafficking, according to a report by the Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA).
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