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6,000 tractors on the Greek highways promise traffic troubles

22 January 2016 / 20:01:25  GRReporter
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Unprecedented are the dimensions of the protest actions against the pension reform proposed by the Greek government. In addition to farmers, yesterday they involved en masse freelancers, lawyers, doctors, pharmacists and engineers.

Almost 6,000 tractors are out on the roads of the country that today began roadblocks, albeit symbolically.

The farmers’ blockades however are becoming larger with each passing day and the number of participants in the Tembi pass and Nicaea is increasing. The violent protests are directed at the Minister of Labour and Social Security George Katroungalos who held today a joint press conference together with the Minister of Agricultural Development Evangelos Apostolou. Simultaneously, the two largest Greek unions, namely of private sector workers (GSEE) and of civil servants (ADEDY) have announced a national strike on 4 February.

Over 2,000 tractors in Nicaea

The concentration of tractors in Nicaea has exceeded all expectations, as the protest organizers believe they are over 2,000. This means that the blockade in Nicaea is one of the largest blockades ever. According to the representatives of the union of farmers, who have organized the protests, their mass scale shows "the revolt of small and medium-sized farmers."

The tractors coming mainly from Karditsa and Larissa, but also from Trikala, are arranged in a double row on the left and right of the roadway, and farmers are organizing themselves for their following actions.

The large number of tractors is practically closing the highway, which has been blocked since twelve o’clock on Thursday.

As for the other big blockade in the Tembi pass, farmers are planning to close the highway at noon, sending an ultimatum to the government and demanding a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the tax changes, pension reform and production costs. Otherwise, they warn that they will intensify the protests from Monday onwards by closing for an indefinite period of time all the places on the highway where there are tractors at present.

Traffic control in Larissa

By decision of the General Police Directorate of Thessaly, there is still a ban on the movement of vehicles in the A1 highway section (Piraeus-Athens-Thessaloniki-Evzoni) from the Platikambos junction to the interchange at Megalo Monastiri, i.e. a distance of 31 km, because of the blockade in Nicaea. During the ban, motor vehicles can use the old highway Larissa-Volos. For information on traffic changes drivers can telephone the traffic police in Larissa at the following numbers: 0030 2410 -683168, 0030 2410-683169.

A map of the places with concentrations of tractors and where traffic was blocked on Thursday, 21 January

Protests in northern Greece

Based on the data available so far, farmers will periodically close the bridge over the river Nestos (Mesta) at the old highway, near the town of Xanthi.

As stated by unionist Costas Dalatsis, they will try to make a schedule so that people are informed about where there will be roadblocks. They will avoid closing the roads in the early morning hours so as not to hinder the transportation of goods, and will allow ambulances and special vehicles to pass.

Farmers from Kavala are planning to close the road junction at Chrissoupoli. This means that when the old bridge at the river Nestos (Mesta) is closed, Xanthi can be reached only through the mountainous area, through Zarkadia or Drama.

Over 350 tractors are involved in the blockade on the Egnatia Odos at Koulouri in the district of Imathia.

Farmers are symbolically blocking the road at Kokinogia, Drama district, periodically for two hours and Christos Gontias, president of the Hellenic Association of Farmers and Breeders, has demanded that the bill be withdrawn and drawn up again with the participation of farmers.

More than 1,300 tractors and agricultural machines are participating in the blockade of customs in Promachonas and since yesterday, farmers have begun to close the road symbolically.

Farmers are planning to block the traffic at the Niselio junction, Alexandria, at the Makrohori junction and in Halkidona and to close the road in Kouloura on Friday, as stated by the president of the Agricultural Society in Veria, Thassos Charkidis.

Evros: Blockade at Kipi and Kastanies customs

Farmers closed Kipi and Kastanies customs from twelve o'clock to 02:00 pm today in protest against the planned tax and pension changes. There are nearly 500 tractors at the Kastanies junction and 150 at Psatades, Didimoticho municipality.

"Farmers across the country are angry and are out on the roads. The government must understand that there can be no agricultural production nor Greek farmers can exist with this pension and tax reform," president of the Agricultural Society of Alexandroupoli Costas Alexandris told the Athens News Agency.

Regarding the meeting with Minister of Agricultural Development Evangelos Apostolou in Komotini, president Costas Alexandris noted that "the representatives of farmers from Evros told the Minister that we are open for dialogue if the government rejects the proposals for retirement and taxation of farmers. People are losing their property, withdrawing from land cultivation and Mr. Apostolou does not seem to understand it. What we saw and heard from the Minister were provocative statements that there would be no relief for farmers and that his government was alleviating the measures."

Protests of farmers and fishermen in Volos

In Volos hundreds of tractors from Almiros and Velestino, over 600 according to the organizers, have taken un positions in Mikrotives, forming a serious blockade in this section of the A1 highway. It is expected that 300 machines from Farsala will join them. At this place at noon yesterday, the traffic was interrupted for a short while. As pointed out by farmers, their intentions are not to impede the rest of the people as the pension and tax reforms affect all. In addition, they are receiving messages of solidarity in the fight from other sectors.

Meanwhile, hundreds of fishermen from the area of Magnesia blocked the port of Volos yesterday.

Dynamic protests in the region of Epirus

The federation of agricultural companies in the area has announced in a message dynamic protest actions in Preveza. In particular, a protest rally took place in the city centre at 11:00 am today, which included breeders and fishermen.

Thesprotia farmers and breeders are checking up their forces, warning that they will come out unannounced at the port and on Egnatia Odos the coming days.

Arta breeders blocked Komboti at noon on Wednesday, scheduling another meeting for Saturday and planning to organize themselves to go to Thessaloniki on 28 January. Again tomorrow, Saturday, the federation of agricultural companies in Arta will organize a protest rally in the city centre at 11:00 am.

Having protested with their tractors in the centre of Ioannina, breeders and farmers from the area have decided to go to Thessaloniki on 28 January whereas on Saturday and Sunday they will have a meeting to decide how to continue their protests in Ioannina.

Western Greece and the Peloponnese

Blockades have been organized in Corinthia and Laconia. Farmers from the Peloponnese are remaining at the roadblocks in Koutsopodi, Argolida district, and in Vlachiotis, Laconia area.

In Laconia, farmers with tractors and agricultural machines will move from the region of Mani to Limni, where they are planning a second blockade.

In the area of ​​Aetolia-Acarnania, farmers have gathered their tractors on the main road near Ermitsa since yesterday morning and streets in many villages such as Katohi, Neohori, Kalivia, Galatas are full of agricultural machinery.

Tags: ProtestsFarmersBlockadesTractorsPension reform
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