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50 thousand unemployed farmers if no agreement on agricultural policy in Greece is reached

25 January 2010 / 17:01:48  GRReporter
6826 reads

Victoria Mindova

50 thousand workers employed in agriculture and livestock are threatened to be unemployed, alert the agricultural unions. For more than a week Greek farmers have blocked roads in Greece, as a sign of dissent against the current agricultural policy. The resentment of the producers comes from the vast difference in production and final price in supermarkets. Farmers describe the negotiations between the Ministry of Agriculture and agricultural representatives from the General Confederation of Greek Workers as inefficient. The negotiations were supposed to settle a new framework of working conditions, social insurance and the salaries of farmers. According to them, the main purpose of government is to "clung to the wall" farmers in Greece, in order to open the market for European product imports and to "choke" local production. 

In a mass protest in front Zapio Hall, over 200 representatives of 350 working organizations blocked Amalias Boulevard in Athens and their main request is to protect the interests of small and medium-sized producers. "Purchasing price of milk is maximum € 0.30 for the organic product and the price of the final product in the supermarket is seven times higher, when keeping in mind that the final product comes after treatment with a minimum content of pure milk in it. In fact, manufacturers are forced to sell their final products at prices that do not cover production costs," says Panagiotis Tsihlis president of the National union of milk and food producers. The appeal of the union leader is to create a minimum purchasing price of agricultural production, which will ensure the income of small and medium-sized producers. "The loss of low purchasing prices cannot be covered by government subsidies, which anyway have not been paid yet. A new agricultural program must be built, which will support local producers." 

In connection with hiring seasonal workers in the agriculture sector Panagiotis Tsihlis is certain: "All wage workers should have equal rights. Farmers from Greece, Bulgaria, Albania or any other country must have a unified system of remuneration and social security established by the state." 

Meanwhile a dialogue between representatives of the Agricultural General Confederation of Greek Workers, the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Economic Development and the merchant navy, is being held in Zapio Hall. Farmers, supporters of the opposition party of New Democracy and representatives of the blockade have refused to participate in the dialogue. Minister of Agriculture Katerina Badzeli said: "Dialogue cannot and should not be stopped. Our goal is to introduce a new agricultural policy that will improve competition and will put a framework of the activities of farmers. Right now no immediate financial assistance is possible, but in the upcoming months we will make regulatory changes that will provide new subsidies." 

In the process of the national dialogue the Minister of Economy, Development and Merchant Navy Louka Katseli said: "There is no time to wait. The outcome of this situation is dialogue, fast and effective solutions. First we must strengthen the financing of agricultural activity, with the immediate introduction of new policies in the government. The subsidizing fund for small and very small businesses is open to finance agricultural activity. The program for strategic development also has funds and new programs will be ready by the end of March. Effectiveness will be achieved only if we reach agreement on the correct path of action."

Tags: Farmer protests Zapio Hall Milf Production Agriculture
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