A protest against the owner's intentions to close the steel plant in Halyvourgia, Aspropyrgos , was made this evening by members of the trade union organization of the Communist Party PAME. They gathered at their usual gathering point - Omonia Square in Athens and then went on a procession to the Ministry of Labour.
Trade union leaders, who headed the already nine-months strike in the plants and led to the decision of its closure, asked for a meeting with the minister or another Ministry representative. The doors, however, remained closed.
While the group of representatives was trying to persuade one of the policemen to let them into the minister's office, the loudspeakers were echoing strikers' demands.
"At least 40 of our colleagues must be put back to work immediately. The rest are to be employed gradually over a logical period of time. The employer must commit himself to not hire any new workers until then."
According to strikers, the company's representatives have declined meeting them for months. They refused to meet their obligations, after 120 workers were laid off. Practically, the steel plant had been under workers’ occupation and nobody was allowed to enter it. According to employees, who disagree with the strike, it has been used by the trade union organization of the Communist Party PAME and syndicalists from the radical leftist coalition SIRIZA to obtain political dividends.
After it became clear that there would not be a meeting, one of the factory strikers directed an angry speech against the minister, who "refused to meet us" and against employees as a whole. He emphasized, that the strike is going on and "we will win, because the people are with us".
The procession continued, but it didn’t arrive in front of another ministry or the Parliament. The participants turned into Panepistimiou Street and went back to Omonia Square, where they dispersed.
It is worth noting, that a significant part of the participants were youths - schoolboys and schoolgirls, students, as well as members of the Communist Party, not related to the steel factory.
In the meantime, the press centre of the Minister of Labour, Yiannis Vroutsis, made an announcement, in which he notes, that the negotiations between the factory's management and workers had come to nothing.
"The Ministry of Labour tried and will make all possible efforts to sign a truce and to find a decision for the problem in Halyvourgia. The factory has to start functioning again for the good of the Greek economy, the employment situation, and the workers themselves. Even at the last moment, we invite all to contribute in a positive way to finding a solution, in order for the factory to start functioning again", notes the announcement of the Minister, who asked the two sides to make mutual concessions.
After this development of the "dialogue" all eyes are on the factory management's next step. For now, they say that, if the strike doesn’t stop, they will file a request in the Ministry of Labour for massive lay-offs and for the closure of the plants.