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Strikes, meetings and processions opened the season of protests in Athens

12 September 2012 / 17:09:07  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Municipal workers, physicians of the national health system, teachers and uniformed personnel – all of them public workers, occupied today the centre of Athens with their protests. Some trade unions in the private sector, which are controlled by the trade union body of the Greek Communist Party PAME, joined their resentment too.

Municipal workers started it all off. Around 1,000 people had gathered outside the office of their trade union organization in Karaiskaki Square and then headed to Stadiou Street. Their colleagues from different municipalities were waiting for them there. President of the trade union Themis Balasopoulos stated firmly, "If the Troika continues to require layoffs of 15,000 public workers we will immediately close all municipalities across the country."

While mayors were waiting to meet with Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras to request funding for municipalities, the workers headed to Syntagma Square with slogans like, "We did not cause the crisis, nor will we pay for it."

At the same time, several metres down the street, communists – trade unionists from PAME, together with representatives of employees in various hotels blocked the entrance to the Ministry of Employment and said they would not go away until Minister Yiannis Vroutsis met with them. Their main slogan was, "Hands off the income of the people."

The meeting point of teachers and educators was in the upper part of Korai Square, in front of Athens University. Yesterday, they accepted 1.5 million pupils in public schools and left them home again today to hold their strike.

Despite the "war" slogans "We are fighting to reject the policy of the government, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund" and "Education is not for sale," the participation in their protest was extremely weak.

At the same time, cancer patients and people with chronic kidney problems protested in front of the parliament. A little later, came the procession of employees of Post Bank, who protested against its privatization.

Despite the weak participation, police presence in the area around the parliament and the Ministry of Finance was very strong. Vassilis Sofias Avenue was blocked by police buses and the known iron fence intended to protect the entrance of the parliament. The protests ended peacefully and without tension.

Besides their colleagues in public schools, the members of the association of teachers in private schools held a 24-hour strike too. The strike of college teachers will continue until Friday and their colleagues in some university departments are on strike from today.

A protest procession organized by representatives of active and retired military is expected to take place in the late afternoon.

The two biggest trade unions in private (GSEE) and public sectors (ADEDY) have announced their intention to soon organize a Pan-Hellenic strike against the new austerity measures.


Tags: SocietyStrikesProtestsPublic workersTeachersPhysicians
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