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Violent protests, cries and a strike of parliament employees during the debate on the third memorandum

07 November 2012 / 23:11:34  GRReporter
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Several hours before the critical vote on the bill, on which the payment of the life-saving tranche of 31.5 billion euro depends, the Greek parliament has become a volcano that is ready to erupt. Parliament employees, who continue to receive 16 salaries annually have stopped working and threatened that they will not work unless the Finance Minister, Yiannis Stournaras, withdraws the amendment of one of the articles. It stated that parliament employees should be treated like all other public workers "in combination and in accordance with the rules of parliament." The new text, however, does not contain the last sentence and this has infuriated the employees, many of whom have gone to the lobbies and started to protest. A little later, the employees’ union issued a communication announcing that it has decided to participate in the strike announced by the ADEDY union for the time from the time period 7 pm to the end of the plenary session. They have warned that they will stop working. Thus, in practice, they will thwart the continuation of the debate and the vote on the bill as well.

Before all this happened, deputies of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks protested against the introduction of the amendment. When the strike had already become a fact, the parliamentary representative of the Communist Party said, "It is not possible for the meeting to continue, while the employees are on strike." A little later, the meeting was interrupted and the chairman of parliament Evangelos Meimarakis and the Finance Minister met with union representatives of the employees. Ultimately, Yiannis Stournaras was forced to withdraw the amendment but in his statement afterwards, he said that it would be reintroduced after being revised. He directly accused the parties of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks of "urging the leadership of the parliament employees’ union to announce a work stoppage in the temple of democracy." "But he who has eyes sees," he said in conclusion.

His words provoked sharp reactions among lawmakers in both parties, who demanded his resignation. The leader of independent Greeks, Panos Kamenos, even called Yiannis Stournaras "an appointed worker of Goldman Sachs." Meanwhile, officials continue to claim that the strike will continue.

According to unconfirmed information, they threatened to rush into the television studio of the parliament and cut the live broadcast of the meeting. The journalists who were present and who tried to shoot the scene had incurred the wrath of employees with this action.

The atmosphere in parliament was already tense at the start of the debate on the bill. The main opposition party SYRIZA introduced an objection, arguing that the legal text was presented for a vote under the fast-track procedure contrary to the constitution of the country and proposed a vote on that. After it was carried out by a show of hands, as the rules of parliament stipulate, the left deputies denied the result of the vote. Then violent attacks ensued against the chairman of parliament Evangelos Meimarakis, who said, "The presidium cannot be blackmailed by those who scream" and ordered a roll call vote to be conducted. The deputies of SYRIZA, Independent Greeks, the Communist Party and Golden Dawn voted in support of declaring the bill unconstitutional. The request was rejected after 170 members of New Democracy, PASOK and the Democratic Left voted against it.

The debate will continue until midnight, when the critical vote will take place. The leader of Democratic Left Fotis Kouvelis said that there was no change in the position of the party and its members would vote against the articles, which introduce the changes in the labour relations.

It is not yet clear how many members of PASOK will actually implement their threats and not support the bill, despite the call of the party leader Evangelos Venizelos to do so.

According to analysts, the legal text would be adopted with about 155 votes in its favour. They believe that the biggest challenge for the triple coalition will be tomorrow, when it will have to directly confront all trade unions, party and social groups and organizations that protect the privileges and do not allow the implementation of changes.

Tags: PoliticsParliamentThird memorandumBillDebatesParliament employees
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