On Saturday, November 13, workers of Greek ferro-nickel production company General Mining and Metallurgical Company SA (LARCO) went for a 24-hour work stoppage protesting the government’s plan to divide the company and privatize it. They also organized a national rally in capital Athens. Trade unionists from the All Workers Militant Front (PAME) and delegates from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE) participated in the rally in solidarity with the LARCO workers. Following the rally, a delegation of LARCO workers and trade unionists reached out to the prime minister’s office and scheduled a meeting with minister of state Giorgos Gerapetritis next week to discuss the issue.
LARCO workers have been protesting for the last 22 months since February 2020, when the conservative New Democracy (ND)-led government proposed the phased privatization of the state-owned company and a 25% reduction in the salary of employees. The workers have already organized several protests, including strikes, rallies and road blocks, against the proposed privatization and salary cuts. They are demanding job security and unified operations of the company.
LARCO has four major mines in different parts of Greece. Its metallurgical plant in Larymna employs the majority of its employees. Due to the continuous pressure from the resisting workers, important plants and mines of LARCO were continuing to operate and generate profits cashing in on the favorable nickel prices. But the government’s policy and approach has led to the abandonment of several facilities. The lack of maintenance has also led to dangerous working conditions, posing huge risks for workers.
The LARCO workers union stated prior to the mobilization, “the government here for two years has been making a mockery of us; by the end of the year it will have held the criminal tenders for divestment and has still not ensured so much the continuation of the unified operation and its development, as well as the jobs, the rights and the payment of what it owes us as an employer and a political boss. The employees of Larco no longer tolerate ridicule and we make it clear that for our self-evident and just demands, there is no way to back down.”
While addressing the rally of LARCO workers in Athens, KKE general secretary Dimitris Koutsoubas said that “the government and the other political parties must finally respond clearly to the workers of LARCO to ensure the continuation of the unified operation of Larco, to safeguard the jobs and rights of all workers.”