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Agricultural Bank’s on-going strike to forerun the coming avalanche of protests of all Greek banks

13 December 2010 / 17:12:21  GRReporter
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All branches of Agricultural Bank of Greece closed this morning, fore-running the 48-hour strike of all other banks tomorrow. The strike of Agricultural Bank’s employees will continue indefinitely and their demands are for not reducing their wages by 10% as provided in paragraph 12 of the new labour relations draft.

The strike of ATEbank’s employees will continue after Wednesday when is the day of the national strike and thousands of employees of private companies and state institutions are expected to protest in the streets against the new Memorandum. One or two employees of the branches of Agricultural Bank of Greece will work in the days of the strike to serve customers and to meet ongoing duties.

The rumour that 35% of the bank's assets - bank branches and corporate companies - will be sold has not yet become a specific decision, told GRReporter Costas Amoutzias - the President of the union of Agricultural Bank staff.

"There are talks that the sale of 35% of the bank assets was required by the European Commission on Competition, but it is written nowhere. In our opinion there is no reason to apply these measures to Agricultural Bank. We expected different measures - to increase shareholders' equity and the Bank to participate in what the Prime Minister George Papandreou declared to be a state bank tower. We are facing a very different situation because, as they say, ‘the Troika required it.’ Apparently, the Troika is above any government policy and may cancel the government statements," said Mr. Amoutzias.

"We try not to allow such decisions to be taken. We are neither aware of how such a decision will be implemented, nor whether it is discussed anywhere. It is upon bank management decision to close some branches and to determine which branches to be closed. We are against the closure of branches of the bank, against the content of the new bill and against the measures of the new Memorandum and try to prevent their implementation. The draft for the introduction of corporate contracts, which will be voted on tomorrow, has an Article 12 which actually affects the Agricultural Bank. There is not a specific law for changes in the other banks yet but the overall changes in the new Memorandum affect them. The draft is just about the Agricultural Bank, because the state holds 77% in it and it is the biggest bank with state capital. Article 12 refers specifically to 10% reduction in wages and cuts in allowances," said for GRReporter the President of the union of the employees in the Agricultural Bank.

Agricultural Bank is the major shareholder of some companies that are its biggest customers - the dairy factory Dodo and the Greek sugar factory. It is not clear what the future of these factories will be because they are located in remote border areas in Greece like the cities of Ioannina and Xanthi and their fate will be uncertain if the bank withdraws its capital from them. On the other hand, the farmers union PASEGES proposed the cooperatives to take the shares, which would actually be a government gesture to support the development of cooperatives.

All other banks in Greece will go on a 48-hour strike tomorrow as the updated Memorandum stipulated equal working conditions for all banks. Bank employees’ demands are against wage cuts and dismissals. According to a statement of the President of the union of bank employees Stavros Koukos, the new contracts will have no social security obligations and employees will not be protected from wanton dismissals which will allow proceeding to larger groups and sales of banks.

"Of course I will take part in the strike. What they are doing now is to eliminate what was gained for decades, namely the right of workers to receive an average salary of 1000 euros at the moment and benefit basic labour rights. Salaries will become 700 euros. How much money we are talking about?" said an employee of a Greek bank.

Agricultural Bank’s employees will protest tomorrow – Tuesday, at one o’clock at noon on Syntagma Square. They will meet at ATEbank on Panepistimiu Street and Kriezotou. They will take part in the nationwide strike at 11 o’clock on Wednesday on the square of Pedio tou Areos as their pre-meeting will be at 10:30 am on Yulianu Street and Patision Blvd.


Tags: NewsSocietyBanksAgricultural BankStrikeCapitalSugar factoryCompaniesSalaries
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