Today, shortly before 2 pm, the celebration rally of May 1st – Labour Day – ended on Syntagma Square. It was organized by two of the largest Greek unions – the civil servants’ ADEDY, the private employees’ GSEE and the Union of workers and employees.
With the slogan "together we can" and with the main demand of ensuring collective agreements, at least 5,000 people of all ages, employed, unemployed and retired, responded to the call of the unions. In the periphery of the rallies material damage was caused to three election booths.
Meanwhile, members of non-parliamentary leftist parties held a protest march, which started from the Archaeological Museum on Stadiou Street and ended on Syntagma square in front of the Greek Parliament.
The rally of the Communist movement PAME was held in the "Greek steel" factory, whose workers have been on strike for over six months.
Similar strikes were held in all major cities in the country. Mainly Italian and Portuguese members of the European trade unions expressed their support for Greek trade unions during the rallies
May 1st was celebrated in Thessaloniki with rallies against government austerity measures and processions in the streets as well. The workers Union in Thessaloniki and the Union of the organizations of civil servants held a rally on Aristotelous square in the city centre. Later, a procession was held and wreaths were laid before the Monument of the Employee in front of the Union of Workers.
"Today we honour the struggles of the working people. Unemployment now exceeds 32 percent, we are experiencing the most severe crisis of all time, and the government's measures are ineffective and lead to deadlock. Workers are here and will fight", said the President of the Union of Workers Panagiotis Tsaramboulidis.
In Patras two different demonstrations and processions were organized. The first demonstration was held on "National Resistance" square and was organized jointly by the workers Union of the city and the regional organization Union of civil servants.
During the speeches the following request was expressed: "a different policy with a plan and programme that will strengthen development, promote employment, create new jobs, guarantee social benefits, income, workers' rights and social cohesion."
Meanwhile, the communist movement PAME held a rally on Georgiou square. The speeches emphasized that "now the fight for branch collective agreements must be started, which will prevent the reduction of wages, and organized opposition to additional taxes should increase as well, asking for their removal altogether."
Rallies were followed by protest demonstrations in the city centre, during which slogans against the memorandum and economic measures were chanted.
Attacks on election booths
In the periphery of the rally held on Syntagma Square in Athens, unknown persons set the election pavilion of the Union of National Unity on fire, which was located on the corner of Othonas and Amalias streets.
Damage was caused also to the election booth of the Democratic Left, which was on Korai street, to the election booth of Social Agreement, which was on the corner of Arsaki and Panepistimiou streets and to the election booth of Independent Greeks, which was on the intersection of Panemistimiou and Voukourestiou streets.
Furthermore, unknown persons set a luxury car on fire, which was parked on Emmanuel Benaki street.
Call for contracts
Union representatives urged employers to sign field collective agreements and to protect them.
Deputy Chief Secretary of the Syndicate of Private employees, Stathis Anestis said that there is a need for signing new trade agreements and urged employers, government and the Troika "to show respect to labour, sweat and productivity of workers."
"Today we honour the memory of those workers and pioneers who won the eight-hour day", said the President of the Syndicate of civil servants Costas Tsikrikas, stressing that "policies imposed by our partners in the European Union take us back to a century ago."
Tsikrikas also added that "coordinated fight of all workers in Europe will aim to change the balance of power in the Old continent so that governments can invest in development and not in parasitic capital."
For his part, Vice President of the Syndicate of civil servants Ilias Vretakos said that the struggles of workers against policies, which lead to poverty and misery, will continue and will become even more active after the elections.
The Secretary of the Federation of Private employees Thanos Vasilopulos expressed his confidence that the "workers and employersin the trade sector will come to signing of field collective agreements and they will not be violated."
In their messages the unions say that this year's May 1st rallies and strikes acquire special characteristics after the continuous harsh, unfair, antisocial and neoliberal measures imposed by the Troika and the government.
Shops are closed
The shops will remain closed on Tuesday as this year's May 1st is declared a holiday in Greece.
Exceptions are companies that operate, according to law, on Sunday and on other non-working days.
In this case, according to the National Confederation of Greek Commerce, if employees work in these companies, they are entitled only to a supplement to the amount of 75 percent calculated on their legal daily wage.
Seafarers on strike
The trade unions of seafarers will celebrate May 1st with a 24-hour strike in the port of Piraeus.