Public and private sectors trade unions have announced a Pan-Hellenic strike for 1 December. Therefore, two weeks after the formation of the new Greek government, the first protests against its policies are already underway. Less than a month after the end of the weeklong strike by workers in the cleaning departments of Greek municipalities, due to which Athens and Thessaloniki sank into thousands of tons of waste, the federation of municipal workers held a protest in front of the Ministry of the Interior.
The employees protested against the wage cuts and the introduction of the labour reserve in the public sector. Some of them even symbolically "captured" the office of Deputy Minister Paris Koukoulopoulos, who is responsible for cleaning services in the Greek municipalities.
In a conversation with representatives of the federation, the Deputy Minister tried to convince them that despite the introduction of the labour reserve and the shrinking public sector, not a single job in municipalities is threatened. Paris Koukoulopoulos also said that the waste management in Greece today pollutes the environment. It is costly to citizens due to the high local taxes and to the state, which pays hefty fines.
"This situation must change," he said, adding that the forthcoming change through the appointment of new bodies that will be engaged in waste management, following international competitions, will not have the negative results anticipated by employees.
After the conversation and the "occupation" of the office of the Deputy Minister, the president of the federation and the other members of the delegation went to their colleagues to inform them of the outcome of the protest. "If we are not all together, they will destroy us all. Those who are governing us now are more dangerous than ever, because they are not responsible to anybody," said Themis Balasopoulos and noted that the participants in today's protest, which were not more than 60 people, were too few. "From the morning until the moment we occupied the office, the secretary to the Minister was telling us that his schedule was full and he had no time to meet us. In the end, we will meet him tomorrow morning and I hope many more people will come here."
According to unofficial sources, the federation is planning to start protest actions next week.
Public companies and services had to submit the lists of employees who will be involved in the labour reserve to the Ministry of Finance by yesterday. This has caused a new wave of protest actions. Today, the electric train, the subway and the trams in the Greek capital were not running between noon and 4.30 pm. Drivers were protesting against the labour reserve, wage cuts, the abolition of the collective labour agreement and redundancy, which caused longer delays in mass transport.
Their representatives met Minister of Transport Makis Voridis, who was informed by the management of transport companies about the situation in public transport some days ago. After the meeting, trade unionists argued that it went well. This is not a surprise to anyone, since two days ago the Minister from LAOS urged the Ministry of Finance to exclude public transport companies from the list of state enterprises, which will be included in the labour reserve.
"Apparently, the Minister fully understands that the implementation of the measure will actually close the public transport," said the chairman of the union of public transport Michalis Liagouris. Trade unionists added that they would await the decision of the Ministry before deciding on how to proceed with their protests. In parallel, however, they did not exclude the possibility of starting a new series of strikes and added that they would proceed with four 24-hour strikes in bus and trolley transport.
Journalists, technicians and administrative staff at the public broadcaster ERT, the national news agency ANA and local television and radio stations will strike on Wednesday and Thursday. They are also protesting against the labour reserve and their inclusion in the payroll table.
At the same time, the two major trade unions of employees in the public and private sectors, ADEDY and GSEE, announced the implementation of a Pan-Hellenic strike for 1 December. "The strike will be against the austerity measures budgeted for 2012 and the cut funds for social policy," stated GSEE spokesman, Stathis Anestis.