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live Halkidiki miners barricade themselves underground, they want their jobs

25 August 2015 / 16:08:21  GRReporter
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Dozens of miners have barricaded themselves in an underground gallery in the Olympiada region in Halkidiki in protest against the government's decision to block the activity of the company Hellenic Gold. Their action is putting their health at risk because the amount of oxygen in the mine is decreasing and they are refusing to undergo a medical examination.

The protest began last night with the participation of 50 miners and at least that many joined them today. The decision of the cabinet of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks will leave without an income 2,000 employees, 1,300 of whom have already received from the company written notice that the work in the mines is suspended.

United under the slogan "We will not relent until we win", the miners want guarantees that they will not lose their jobs. They have also announced their intention to proceed to other protest actions, which will include occupations of SYRIZA offices.

Minister Panos Skourletis who is responsible for the decision to withdraw the technical studies, which were the basis for the issuance of permits for the extraction of metals from the mines in Skouries and Olympiada, said today on Mega TV that the company has not fulfilled its obligations regarding the issue of licences. "For three years, the company Hellenic Gold has been obliged to provide a safe method for gold extraction but time has expired without it having done so."

According to Skourletis, the activities in the region of Skouries are not totally stopped because performing them is allowed in some places. "We could withdraw the full licence but did not do so. The employees are not losing their jobs. However, if that happened, it would be the company’s fault," he added.

For his part, Deputy Minister of Agricultural Development Vangelis Apostolou told Skai TV that the government does not make concessions on issues related to environmental protection. "We know this will have consequences for employment but some things do not allow making concessions. We want investments but they should not have a negative impact on the environment."

On Monday, the company Hellenic Gold called for a conversation with the government in order to find a mutually acceptable solution for the continuation of the project in the gold mines in Halkidiki.

Earlier today, the company defined Minister of Productive Reconstruction, Energy and Environment Panos Skourletis as a "victim of nihilists and irresponsible people" in response to his statement that the company exports highly toxic waste in China through the port of Thessaloniki.

The government's decision to block the activity of Hellenic Gold was announced hours before Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for early elections. The fight against gold mining in Halkidiki was one of the main tactics of SYRIZA on the road to power.

GRReporter recalls that another protest against the company's activities took place on Sunday, formally organized by civil society organizations. The arrests of some of its participants made clear that many of them were foreign nationals, including Bulgarians whereas the police found on the extreme activists full equipment for clashes with security forces.

Tags: SocietyMinersGold minesHalkidikiHellenic Gold
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