The Hellenic Shipyards (et al*) saga continues…

Breaking News, European Union, Politics and Government, Ship Conversions, Shipbuilding and Shipyards, Shiprepair — By on July 2, 2012 at 3:48 PM

At the centre left the Hellenic Shipyards docks can be easily seen empty – photo courtesy John Faraclas

WITHOUT PREJUDICE

Now what do you make of the latest “patriotic intrusion” of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE)? The nearly 100 years old tertiary trade union  body in Greece – affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation, has written a letter to Greece’s new Prime Minister and the relevant to the matter ministries, as well as to all parties political leadership, with the… oxymoron dilemma “Consolidate or collapse”  vis-à-vis saving the shipyards and the sector asap; John Faraclas writes:

The letter coincides with the latest judgment from the European Court of Justice’s condemnation in a long-running state aid saga, finding that consecutive Greek regimes, have failed to meet their obligation to recover illegal aid to the Hellenic Shipyards (HSY). This is not in any way news, it’s the decision back in 2008, even before that – we hear this over the last 15 years,  requiring that the Greek government recovers sums from the civil division of the yard. Many media refer to Greece; well the proper should read “Greek Government at the material time of the …crime”! No I am not employing irony, simply expressing the proper and the truth.

Now let’s take up the contents from this last letter and its …“demanding” note:

a) The creation of a single entity to include all shipyards  (Hellenic, Eleusis Neorion, etc., etc) was firstly tabled by the writer and was duly published  in the international media – Lloyd’s List, the Drydock magazine in the mid 90’s, to mention but a few,   nearly 20 years ago and this plan was mentioned in the writer’s account on SBC TV on  the 13th of June live appearance, as well as on 28 June 2011 at the British Hellenic Chambers of Commerce event in London. Let the Unions and the Socialist Regimes as well as the apathy of New Democracy, which, coupled with total ignorance of how one has to turn round the yard profitably and avoid missing unique opportunities, brought this situation and the accompanied cover ups, yes cover ups! Triena, the HSY sole (!) union, in particular exclusively bears the stigma, the entire burden!

b) In my article back on 29 December 2011 (Greece: should the shit hit the fan?) I mentioned in detail the situation and for your easy reference I quote same here below:

4) As a consequence to the above, Maritime Education is going down the bin and if not properly tackled, not even Masters and Chief Engineers will be available in the very near future. Come on, build a training ship in any of Greece’s shipyards to give a bit of enthusiasm and impetus to the sector!

5) Conversely (to the above) the shipbuilding industry, both merchant navy one as well as naval are suffering. The once upon a time productive and successful shipyards in Greece, one by one are closing down. Others are under special regime as ordered by the European Union with the fiddling and other sagas… a must to come-out. Indeed we have skeletons in the cup-board and every Greek citizen demands the European Union and its legal mechanisms to step-in and save these industries. As mentioned in the past, why miss the newbuilding spree of the early 90’s? Who is to blame? Put him on the dock together with his accomplices! Same applies for the speedy recovery and honor of our nation vis-à-vis the submarines scandals involving former ministers and many many others. Shall we tell you how to get them and pin them down and how to find the embezzled money? Or do you have your own way of doing so? A must for Europe to step in and well, let it be, let those from Europe who are also involved in the submarines scum pay the penalty too!

One must also refer to the bad labour unionist movements, which directed from abroad, indeed from abroad and executed by the “local working class heroes”, with the “blessings” of successive greek governments brought down the yards sending more and more work not only to the Far East but to Greece’s rivals in the periphery (Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, Adriatic Sea yards, Malta, Bulgaria, Rumania, Turkey and former Soviet Union Black Sea states). Billion of dollars where lost! Some of these practices emanating from abroad where the main reason of the British Shipyards decline – remember the strikes, demands, delays in the late fifties and sixties and the consequences of these delays with owners ordering this tonnage having a… “heart attack” as the vessels where not ready to meet their chartering obligations…

Let Costas Kokkalas master the plan to save the Greek shipyards; indeed we have people to do it, but alas, abandon both party politics, favoritism and ignorance in creating the state’s demands when none of the state’s public servants and appointed specialists/cronies knows about shipyards, their privatization and basically running them. We have seen both parties schemes ending in a CTL (Constructive Total Loss); isn’t so? Organize the Perama mess! Arrange for Northern Greece too to have at least one shipyard and/or a major Panamax-size floating dock! Wake up! Those who have failed to these simple projects until now must be paraded handcuffed in Athens’ Constitution Square and the White Tower in Thessaloniki and be publicly humiliated accordingly!

Now, Nemesis – my good old friend, knows how to act; please read carefully the following:

Just before the last local elections in Greece in 7 and 14 November 2010 the following incident took place at the parade  (armed forces, students, unionists,  etc.) for the 28th of October 2010 celebration/anniversary, at the main square of Piraeus, on the same day that Greece in 1940 said NO to the Axis powers attacking her from the North West.

In front of the then Minister of Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries John Diamantides, who was representing the then George A. Papandreou regime, the affected by the shipbuilding and shiprepair crisis workers and their families were standing at the opposite sidewalk shouting against the government and in particular the candidate to become Mayor of Piraeus John Michas, the then Prefect of Piraeus and his deputy Stavros Markatos, that they have let them down and “send” them into poverty. A white-cotton poster/placate, …quite “strangely” was hanging up, on two lamp-posts. There wasn’t a single other poster/placate, either for or against the government,   as the authorities did well in policing the area the previous night.  Obviously…  rumors say that the outgoing Mayor of Piraeus, the towering (2, 15m)  ex national basket ball team guard player Panagiotis Fasoulas  to… “entertain the government” for not backing him for another term, has “let” it be hanged….

Both Markatos and Michas were in the secretariat of Triena under the presidency of George Kontakis, who instigated the workers collective participation in an ownership form (!!!) under a special ownership deal which was hailed by the lefty loony Greek press and media, and they have raised to Prefect and Deputy Prefect of Piraeus respectively: Can you imagine! The secreatary and treasurer of Triena Union become Prefect and Deputy Prefects for Piraeus! Prior to this,  Michas also served as the President of the Workers/Employees Centre of Piraeus…

The result so far, with respect to the furthering/improving the state of the shipyards: simply zero! So, as I have mentioned in previous articles:  where’s the Greek justice system? Where are the Greek and European ombudsmen? Where were all those who created the “famously” then known  infamous 7th European Directive? Where were and still are all those who stupidly granted the subsidies which ended up in paying the PASOK party’s faithful cronies? People say that New Democracy cronies too benefited from this situation…  There should be a thorough investigation, as there is a big cover up: Not only to destroy the Hellenic Shipyards and in general Greece’s shipbuilding, shiprepair and conversion industries, but even beyond that: to destroy every company, good or bad, in particular in the maritime industrial world and destroy Greece in its entirety.

Before the ECJ sends these ultimatums for Greece to repay the subsidies/grants, they should investigate in depth of who was (is) really to blame. Already one Defense Minister from the Socialist PASOK party is behind bars, “comrade”** Akis Tsohatzopoulos– more than twenty should follow him from both PASOK and New Democracy, needless to say that there is not just a conspiracy theory, it is even beyond that. Then, if the justice system works, many “noble gentlemen, ” as well as unionists from outside Greece too will sit on the dock and I can assure you they will end behind bars! Moreover, rest assured that there is ample evidence and ammunition here to expose all those perpetrators who destroyed Greece’s shipbuilding, shiprepair and conversion industries, in which over 20, 000 workers were immediately involved – if you add the collateral damage which the industry suffers in Greece, particularly in the Perama area, where the small yards and workshops are slowly but steadily dying! Calculate the family dependents and the social damage and you will see for yourself.

The irony of the matter is that when I was appointed Aide to John Diamantides on my first day – 30 September 2010 , minutes after he was sworn in, I entered my office and the only thing on my desk was an ashtray with clips, and a desk-diary, gratis the Prefect of Piraeus John Michas! Michas, who on a formal visit to meet John Diamantides at the Ministry, accompanied by Stavros Markatos, didn’t… remember me… he then said, oh! time is flying you are bald and grey… Now, this man accused me in 1993 and 1996 for offering one dollar to take over the yard, which was even too much for the burden to be interested, as  the total state of the HSY was, at best, appalling – the then Governments were unable to sell as there were too many legal problems,   he was sticking posters in the lifts of the Hellenic Shipyards offices in Scaramanga and when I told him “what’s up, are you crazy, we are talking even together my  takeover bid and you accuse me? Don’t you know what a negotiation entails? And at the end of the day, are you a party to the deal?” He said: “Mr. Faraclas, I am a leftist, a communist so to say,  I must act like this as the members are watching!”

You can read all this in the archives of Lloyd’s List, Fairplay and Naftiliaki, plus: how well that dollar  I offered fitted the situation! It was even too much! But Stavros Markatos immediately recognized me!!!! He couldn’t play any further games, at least with me!  You see Markatos was a good player in HSY’s  famous volleyball team, which at a time was in the premier league division of Greece and he knew that I could …jump up and score in the usual volleyball language with a spike or …otherwise!!! Now the quality of the desk-diary was superb, coming from a Nation’s or better say Prefect’s coffers with public money…

Just for argument’s shake: say I wasn’t the best to take over the shipyards; why have all the attempts to privatize since 1992 spectacularly failed? How strong were/are the unions in destroying the Greek shipbulding, shiprepair and conversion cluster, one of the best in the entire world? And who supported them in this terrible sin?

It hurts to fly over the area, as I did on the eve of the latest Greek election returning to London, Saturday night at 20:00 hours, but lucky enough to be able to take an aerial photograph, a bit blurred due to the time and height, plus the clarity of the aircraft’s window, but as you can see the Hellenic Shipyards and all of their docks are empty. An undeniable evidence. S H A M E ! Eleusis too was idle…

Calling a fast one on the Greek and Europen Taxpayer

So who is pulling, over the last 25 years, a fast one on the Greek and European taxpayer? Eh? And who is trying to destroy Greece? Greek shipyards, since 1992, twenty years now, have missed a minimum total of  US$ 2 billion from newbuldings and another 2 billion from shiprepairs – and these are conservative estimates. Missing the newbulding boom of the nineties is a business crime. And having predicted the newbuilding spree I decided to assemble ships in the Scaramanga yard of the Hellenic Shipyards, to offer a steady income and further jobs to the unique, experience-wise workforce! Had they followed my plan, they could have possibly succeeded, but…

In a nutshell:

  • These unionists and their accomplices send the Greek shipowners abroad – for both shipbuilding and shiprepairs;
  • They closed down the shipyards with their actions;
  • They deprived the proud and unique workforce and their families of jobs!
  • They made Greece a ridicule in a field where she could have another record like the one of being the world’s number one shipowning nation, in further earnings! Mind me, not to be forgotten: All of Greece’s shipyards had also foreign clients!
  • They halted nearly all defence shipbuilding projects and deprive these yards also of selling abroad! That’s a fact.
  • Why should Greece go and build warships of any kind abroad?
  • Greece’s shipyards are capable in building all the ships needed for its coastal trade, be it fast ro-ro/passenger or conventional ones, plus cargo ships!
  • Greece’s shipyards are capable of building luxury cruise ships.
  • Greece’s shipyards have delivered mega yachts.
  • Greece’s shipyards are capable of building any type of cargo ships.
  • Same applies for all types of repairs!
  • Just remember, the SD14’s (15, 000 dwt), the 47, 000 dwt geared bulkers, the 30, 000 IMCO III tankers, the fish-trawlers, the luxury mega yachts   and many more types.
  • Did I hear you say oil rigs/platform repairs? Did I hear you say the  111 US Navy war ships repairs?  Yes, one hundred and eleven times the HSY repaired US war ships?
  • And what about train/ rolling stock?

I will leave it here and will welcome your comments. I will be more than pleased to entertain you further.

Meantime, I hope that those involved on the issue both in Greece and in Brussels come up with their points; I will then entertain them too!

There is no way one to return money, when the other side never ever checked what was going on. Unless some people like to throw good money after bad! Same applies for the debt the Troika imposed to Greece and the Greek Regimes are milking to death all the Greek citizens; another constitutional mismanagement… or what… The European Union and the Commission should together with the IMF demand that the Greek politicians, particularly the PASOK …Socialist ones,  who embezzled all these billions, pay them back.

* Greece’s shipyards apart from the Hellenic Shipyards, include Eleusis, Neorion, Chalkis and the yards at Perama, plus the PPA one.

** At a visit in London in the mid-nineties, the party faithful leader in London, introduced him to the public “Welcome Comrade  Akis (Tsohatzopoulos)”…. I was disgusted when I heard this… Are these the comrades of PASOK, the socialists who wanted to change Greece on the election eve of Autumn 1981: What they did since the mid 70’s (when they deceived the voters together with the New Democracy glitterati) was to fatally wound Greece and to sell the country piecemeal. They have deprived the proud Greeks to the worst extent! Their actions simply prove this, at this very moment!

P.S. Will a yellow submarine toy be the best gift for Tsohatzopoulos…? We must have the strength in becoming unjust!

    3 Comments

  • petros says:

    that is what happens when the government tries to run a business. pestilence develops in geometric progression…. and we then can see the sad state of affairs. scandals and bribery has two sides; those who pay out and those who receive. both should be held accountable!
    eleos!

  • Claus Santon says:

    Dear sir,

    I like your point of view re. the Greek Shipyard situation and the
    unions. My first experience with Greece was when I was asked to
    come to Lavrion and manage the construction of Yachts for export
    at Olympic Shipyard. I spent three wonderful years there.

    Now I am looking for a large facility with highly skilled workers
    which, as you say, can be bought for one dollar. Not possible I know
    but close to that.

    This yard will be used to build a very large number of Danish designed Littoral Combat Ships and Frigates. But the facility has to be completely free of any union involvement, or not interesting.

    If interesting, we have the backing required to start building right away and the export orders.

    You should maybe revert to claussanton@hotmail.com

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