At the port of Piraeus on Thursday morning one witnessed a classic incident of outdated trade unionism.

Twenty trade unionists tried to obstruct the departure of ships from the country’s largest port.

What followed reflected the fact that the trade unionist movement has become severed from simple workers.

Indignant passengers after hours of delay managed to distance the protesters. In the past, the hassle would make no difference as nobody dared to oppose the decision of a union.

The time has come to end this odd captivity of thousands of people engineered by a small group of career unionists, but not by violence because the right to strike continues to be important for every worker.

The problem begins with the manner in which unionists themselves conceive of trade unionism, especially when they make decisions that they know are not supported by the majority of workers or society at large.

There are strikes that are passionately backed by society and workers put all their energy into them.

Yet there are others, like the one at the port, which are held just for the sake of declaring them, with no benefit.

One sees 20 or 50 people protesting in central Athens and nobody ever learns why they were striking.

In fact, a strike does not function merely as a lever to pressure a government or an employer. It is an opportunity for the demands of workers to become known more broadly.

What happened as a result of the strike at the port of Piraeus? One remembers only a tough fight and the phrase, “Get a job buddy!”

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