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Municipal officials are adamant: "The measures will not be implemented"

14 December 2012 / 17:12:55  GRReporter
1874 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

About 500 municipal workers blocked the centre of Athens again. Their strike is expected to continue until next Wednesday, but in the meantime they did not miss the opportunity to attract media and public attention to their protests. They protested against the decision of the Ministry of Administrative Reform to suspend from work some 800 community workers on a permanent contract for a year.

Today, they gathered in front of the syndicate's office, and the procession headed to the Ministry of Administrative Reform. Besides the already familiar calls for revolt and the overthrowing of the government and capitalism, the sound of a departing helicopter could also be heard amid their slogans. It was a clear allusion to politicians that they will be forced to leave the country by helicopter, as in Argentina in 2002. After that, protesters chanted the slogan: "In a magical night, like the one in Argentina, let's see who would be able to get in the helicopter" followed.

Just before Omonia Square, the procession met another one. It was attended by about 100 employees from Athens Municipality. The two groups came together and continued towards their final destination.

Dozens of police officers watched from a distance the protesting employees, some of whom were making offensive comments. The procession arrived at the Ministry, the entrance of which was blocked by police buses. The protesters did not stop and continued a few metres further down the street to the street corner where the building of the Council of Ministers and the Presidency is located. Its entrance was also blocked by dozens of members of the security forces.

Then, the protesters headed towards the entrance of the Parliament. Trade union leader Themis Balasopoulos said once again that employees want to keep their jobs. At the same time, revolutionary songs could be heard over the sound system. He commented on the ordinance issued yesterday by the Minister of Administrative Reform Antonis Manitakis with the words: "they cannot enforce the law, and are therefore trying to impose it by legislative acts." This ordinance provides for the imposition of penalties and unpaid wages to municipal employees who refuse to send the Ministry information about the 800 employees who are to be suspended from work. Today's protest was peaceful and there were no incidents. Only the thunder of 2-3 firecrackers was heard, and several protesters at the basic "front" verbally attacked journalists from various media accusing them of misstatement of "our fair fight."

Yesterday, however, the atmosphere heatened up. Unionists blocked the entrance of a hotel in the Athenian suburb of Maroussi, in order to prevent a congress, which was supposed to be attended by municipal leaders from Greece and Germany, from being held there. According to sources, unionists informed journalists in a written statement that they would have a coffee with Joachim Fuhtel. The information proved to be false, since the German Deputy Minister of Employment was not in Athens at all.

Nevertheless, the syndicate's strike force took steps to prevent the congress. They attacked the Mayor of the suburb of Vrilissia, who was accused of discharging employees "on behalf of the Germans." The Chief Secretary of Maroussi Municipality literally found himself hanging on his necktie after the attack of angry unionists.

''We are taken captive by some 100 trade unionist-bullies," said Mayor of Athens George Kaminis, adding that the competent Minister had promised that the 800 employees would be sent to other offices and would therefore not be dismissed.

"The privileged are exercising terror, because they are losing their privileges. And they can be sure that they will lose these. We are moving forward," was the comment on the subject of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at his press conference in Brussels.

In turn, employees' union leaders do not show any signs of giving up and are expected to announce their future steps after a new session of the executive committee of the syndicate on Sunday.

Tags: Society municipal employees protest trade unionists
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