Organising committee seeks industrial peace for 2004 Olympic Games

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Athens is to stage the Olympic Games in 2004. In November 1999, Greece's Olympic Games Organising Committee appealed to the country's trade unions for "industrial peace" between employers and workers before and during the Games.

An information meeting was held in the offices of the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) on 15 November 1999, on the subject of the progress of the works and programme in preparation for the 2004 Olympiad in Athens. Apart from the vice-chair of the Olympic Games Organising Committee (OEOA) and the president of GSEE, a number of representatives of trade union federations and Labour Centres also took part in the meeting.

After referring to a range of issues, mostly of a economic nature - such as the creation of thousands of new jobs and the significant increase in tourism - the OEOA vice-chair stressed that workers will be the leading "players" in the whole undertaking, both during the four years of preparation for the Olympics and during the Games themselves. Underlining the role of the unions and of GSEE in issues related to employment, the OEOA vice-chair proposed that GSEE participate in education and training programmes for workers who will be employed in organising and holding the games. She also announced that workers' representatives will take part in delegations to Sydney, Australia in view of the organisation of the 2000 Games, and noted that OEOA will collaborate constantly with both GSEE and with the individual federations and Labour Centres. In the framework of these remarks, the OEOA vice-chair stressed the importance of refraining from strike activity and of agreeing "industrial peace" between employers and workers for the period until the Olympic Games are held in 2004.

The president of the GSEE responded that "strikes do not function only as inhibiting factors" and did not rule out the possibility of strikes being used as a means of exerting pressure for the faster implementation of works. In addition, the deputy general secretary of GSEE contended that the labour movement, for reasons both of principle and of facts, neither can, nor wants to, assume such commitments, particularly when the holding of the Olympic Games constitutes an area of conflicting and interconnected interests, where contradictions regarding workers and the environment may be created. However, despite any opposition from the unions with regard to whether or not industrial peace is achieved with the employers, the GSEE president noted the importance of informing workers about the progress of works as well as the organisation of the Games. He also stressed that GSEE is following the progress of the works and of employment-related matters with interest, and announced the immediate creation of a special secretariat to deal with these issues.

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