OPINION

Union sellout

DAKE, the New Democracy-supported teachers’ union, finally won the presidency of the Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME) while PASK, the PASOK-supported union, won back, after two years, the presidency of the Federation of Primary School Teachers (DOE). Notably, Nikos Tsoulias, OLME’s longstanding president, did not run this time, as he is to be a PASOK candidate in the coming elections. Using union activity as a springboard toward a political career has been a common practice in the post-1974 period, particularly in the case of PASOK. Most crucially, this is one of the most fundamental reasons behind the degeneration and discrediting of the union movement in this country. Representing the worker, the pensioner, the farmer and so on, union activity is assertive by nature and takes an opposition stance to the government of the time. A critic of government policy might be able to justify moving into a career as an opposition deputy – even though this «reward» would not be entirely ethical, as it were, as a unionist must be dedicated to serving the interests of the worker, not of a party. The two goals rarely converge. The above «reward,» however, is nothing but a sellout when a veteran unionist joins the ruling party. This puts into question the sincerity and honesty with which he has clashed with the government in promoting workers’ rights. The Socialist party – perhaps because it has been in power for over two-thirds of the post-1974 period – has set up a school of government unionists granting many of its graduates parliamentary seats and ministerial posts. The only question as regards these «graduates» is what they have harmed the most – the idea and principles of trade unionism, or the image and credibility of politics?