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Municipal employees’ strikes continue

22 November 2010 / 12:11:50  GRReporter
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Strikes of employees in municipal and local government organizations continue on Monday and Tuesday, November 22 and 23 respectively. This was the proposal of Themis Balasopoulos, president of the union of municipal employees at the union meeting in connection with their demands for increased wages, social security issues and the upcoming layoffs. It was decided after a three hour discussion to continue the strike another two days. There will be two 24-hour strikes – one on Monday and the day will be used to organize all municipal employees in the country to participate in the protest. A protest march will be held on Tuesday from the union's headquarters on the Kareyskaki Square in the capital to the Parliament on Syntagma Square.

Another serious issue besides the difficulties and sorrows of people that have administrative matters to decide at the beginning of the week is waste. It was initially announced that the strike would last just two days and the situation with urban trash bins is still under control. The decision to continue strike actions could be even dangerous to public health as the employees at the department responsible for the city cleanness are municipal workers and they will not return to work until Wednesday. Scenes of brimming trash bins and bags of garbage scattered on the sidewalks we know from the beginning of the year will most likely occur again as municipal employees are on strike until the middle of the week.

It became clear at the union meeting that municipal employees are not as enthused with the strike as before. "Strike actions are extremely difficult at the moment because of the situation in which employees are at the moment," said Balasopoulos and explained: "What they hear and see around make them distant, paralyzed and frightened." He explained that their internal discontent and anger are growing but they are not active enough to contribute to the union goals achievement.

The president of the general Greek trade union Themis Balasopoulos stressed that trade union leaders in the regions have to agitate more seriously the employees in the specific sectors, so that their requests are reclaimed. The trade union leader did not fail to note that recently he often heard the accusation that if another party was in power (New Democracy for example) trade unions would put more serious efforts in strike actions. It appears that such an accusation could leave a serious stain on the union forces in Greece, which was the reason the management board of the union to highlight the need for active steps.

There were some discontent among those present that required not only layoffs and redundancies in city halls and municipalities to be avoided but all employees on temporary contract to be appointed a permanent civil service with a minimum salary of 1400 euros. Bold proposals like this were not substantiated.

The main demands remained to preserve the collective labour agreement, establishing a new fairer payment system (higher salaries-author’s note), recovery of preferential allowances and other demands on social policy and benefits that are difficult to be met in the current crisis period. For comparison, the minimum wage in the private sector is € 740 and the recommendation of the Head of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the beginning of the year was Greece to reduce wages in order to regain some of its lost competitiveness and give breath to production and export.

 

Tags: SocietyStrikesMunicipalitiesGarbage
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