Charges of illegal violence and violation of a court decision were laid against six workers form Greek Steelworks SA, who participated in the blockade of the factory's main entrance. They didn't let their colleagues go back to work, after the factory's closure was cancelled by the intervention of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. The Greek Prime Minister said that the right to work is a sovereign democratic right and nobody can stand in the way of those wishing to go back to work.
Prosecution authorities in Athens defined the ongoing nine-month strike as illegal and with the help of the police, the factory opened to employees in the early hours on Friday. 140 people work in Greek Steelworks SA, 65 of whom have returned to their jobs and are repairing and cleaning the facilities. At the same time, protests are continuing in front of the factory, and in support of the strikers members of other extreme left parties and associations, such as Andarsiya Association and the movement "I don't pay!", have gathered as well.
The political party of the opposition SYRIZA also opposed the government's decision to declare the strike illegal and supported the protest. The senior member of the extreme left Panagiotis Lafazanis, who went to protest in front of Greek Steelworks SA with four other colleagues, said: "Sympathy for the strikers! Employers and government terror shall not be accepted! "
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that factory employees have submitted over 100 requests for protection of the right to work. After declaring the strike illegal, employees had difficulties reaching their jobs because strikers had blocked the factory's main entrance. Strikers are mainly members of PAME - the Trade Union of the Greek Communist Party. Protesters and strike-breakers even fought, while calling them PAME activists. So far nobody has been seriously injured.
The factory's Chief Executive Officer, Anastasios Stergiou, who tried to enter the yard in the morning, also ended up among the clashes of protesters. He was attacked by 10 participants in the blockade. According to his testimony, he was hit on the head by a motorbike helmet and has bruises on his body.
The Executive Secretary of PAME presented his point of view in the statement: "From early morning the representatives of order of the tripartite administration started suppressing the heroic fight of those working in the steel plants, and some of the strikers guards were arrested. We invite workers and trade unionists to come in front of the factory in support of the fight. "
The leader of the Democratic Left Fotis Kouvelis, who supports the Government of Antonis Samaras, said the situation at the factory in Aspropyrgos has got out of control. "The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection has to help to solve the problems between factory workers and to prevent further internal conflicts. The presence of special police units to combat civil unrest (MAT) also adds further tension. The problems of the Greek economy require broad consensus and understanding. You can find a solution", insists Kouvelis.
After a nine-month strike by workers, who refused to accept reductions in wages and working hours, the factory management announced that it cannot support the financially inoperative enterprise. After the government decided to do everything possible not to close the factory, the management of Greek Steelworks SA promised not to make massive lay-offs. The tension in front of the factory is not abating. Around 500 people have gathered there - employees, unemployed from other sectors and trade unionists who, on Friday afternoon, blocked the national road Athens-Corinth for about an hour. The protest seriously hampered residents of the capital city trying to leave for the weekend and caused traffic jams before the start of summer holidays.