The Greek government is now holding in its hands the presidential decrees that provide for the removal of cleaning services in the municipalities of Athens and Thessaloniki. They will be signed and the procedures will be instigated if municipal officials do not stop their strike action, said the Deputy Minister of the Interior and former mayor of Kozani, Paris Koukoulopoulos, at today's inter-ministerial meeting in Parliament, according to sources.
If the decrees are implemented this would mean that the jobs of the cleaning staff will be automatically removed, and they themselves will be fired or, at best, placed under the labour reserve.
This is the resulting development of the open battle between the Ministry and municipal officials, after yet another failure of their union leaders to agree with Minister Haris Kastanidis a few hours ago. Trade unionists came into the office and went out in less than three minutes. The split came before the mayor, the minister and the officials entered into discussion about the nature of the demands of the protesters.
The situation spiralled out of control when the employees invited Deputy Minister Paris Koukoulopoulos to withdraw the definitions "Camorra" and "snake egg" that he had used against them in statements during a TV broadcast, but he refused. "Then why did you invite us?" asked the striking employees, who then left the meeting saying, "the government chose confrontation."
Now there is a special meeting of the municipal employees union, during which a decision to intensify the protests is expected to be taken. At the same time, about two thousand workers gathered at the landfill in the Ano Liosia suburb of Athens, blocked the entrances and waved the Greek flag. Numerous squads of riot police were deployed in the area for fears of clashes.
Earlier, the governor of Attica, Yiannis Sgouros, commissioned waste collection to three private companies following the decision of the district council and the order for emergency waste collection issued by the Ministry of Health. Private owners will start working immediately by cleaning first the containers around Athenian hospitals, central avenues and schools with the assistance of prosecutors, police and the Ministry of the Interior.
There is a prosecutor in the area of the landfill in Ano Liosia who is ready to implement the order of district prosecutor Eleni Raykou to impose emergency proceedings of those endangering public health through non-collection of waste. The penalty for those who violate the order of the Ministry of Health is a three-month sentence or a fine of up to three thousand euros.
"On Monday, there will be no waste in any part of Attica," said Deputy Minister Paris Koukoulopoulos minutes ago, stressing that "we will not allow blood to be shed" in the event of intervention by the police to open the entrance of the occupied landfill. He again urged the employees to change their position.