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Municipalities are on strike, Athens is buried in waste

09 November 2012 / 20:11:04  GRReporter
2773 reads

Victoria Mindova

The package of fiscal adjustment measures has been adopted this week, but strikes continue. Athens has again remained without underground, trams and electric trains, and municipal workers held another protest procession against the coming cuts. At 11 am, mayoral and municipal workers gathered outside the offices of their trade union organization (POE-OTA) in Karaiskaki Square to set off to Syntagma Square with posters, shouts and music.

Police had cut off main thoroughfares in the centre of the capital, which were included in the route of the procession. When the procession set off from the starting point, disgruntled drivers who did not know about the new strike initiative were tooting their horns and looking for small streets in order to get out of the jam.

The first stop of angry municipal workers was outside the offices of Democratic Left on Agios Konstantinou Street. When the protesters reached the building of a party involved in the coalition government, they began booing it and shouting "Traitors." One of the participants in the procession separated from it and started throwing stones at the first floor. Cheers and applause followed and afterwards, the protesters continued to walk towards Omonia Square.

Familiar slogans sounded over the megaphones, "Take your memorandum and get out of here" and "This policy is fit for the waste-paper basket, your measures are fit for the scrap-heap."

Before reaching the square in front of parliament, the procession stopped for the second time in front of the Ministry of the Interior. There, representatives of the governing body of trade unionists met with Minister Evripidis Stylianidis. They demanded from him details of the upcoming layoffs of employees who have signed permanent contracts, but have not been permanently appointed. "Even the minister does not know exactly how the adjustment will take place," the head of POE-OTA, Themis Balasopoulos, said after his meeting with Stylianidis.

The total number of municipal workers in Greece is approximately 60 thousand. Under the fiscal adjustment plan, 15 thousand employees on permanent contracts should be dismissed in the coming year. They will either be transferred to the state labour reserve for one year and will receive 75% of their salary, or be moved to another office.

"Clearly, mayoralties and municipalities will have serious problems in meeting their obligations due to the reduced budgets. Many of the services we provide will have to be given to private companies,"said  Balasopoulos who firmly opposes the transfer of part of the municipal activity to private companies.

The main changes that the government wants to introduce in local government organizations are related to the cut of costs of management units of mayoralties and municipalities. In other words, the coming cuts will affect mainly mayoral and municipal councillors and those occupying higher positions.

The salaries of the heads of mayoral and municipal councils are expected to be cut by 50%. The bonuses and supplementary pensions for advisers in temporary committees in local government organizations will be eliminated and the additional remuneration of the members of municipal councils and municipal enterprises will be reduced by 50%.

However, trade unionists rely mainly on ordinary workers to continue the active strike. Bins in capital neighbourhoods are already brimming over with household waste. The citizens have begun complaining of a new boom of epidemics since the Indian summer in Greece continues and temperatures remain higher than normal for the season.

The trade union president Themis Balasopoulos has told GRReporter that on Saturday, there will be a general meeting of mayoral and municipal workers from all over Greece at which it will be decided whether or not the strike will continue. "It will be shameful if even one worker accuses us that we have become the reason for him to lose his job," Balasopoulos justified the continuation of the active strike. "So, we are ready to continue the protests."

Tags: SocietyStrikesMayoraltiesMunicipalitiesGreeceCrisis
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