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live A 24-hour strike of the public sector paralyzes Greece

16 July 2013 / 12:07:53  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The procession involving about five thousand people and the subsequent meeting outside the parliament building in Athens took place without tension and clashes between the protestors and the police.

Secondary school teachers, municipal employees, school guards, musicians from the orchestras of the former state broadcaster ERT and other public sector employees are protesting, with slogans in their hands, against the adoption of the bill which regulates the cuts in the staff of various departments.

"Work for all. Dismiss the Troika", "We are people, not figures", "Education is not for sale" are just some of the slogans that the protesters are holding in their hands. They have blocked the street in front of the parliament like the protests of the discontented two years ago. Some of the people are even chanting the slogan of the time, "Let us burn this brothel, the parliament."

Deputies from the parliamentary group of SYRIZA appeared for a while on the stairs of the parliament, holding a huge banner with the slogan, "Let us dismiss the government. No to the dismissals in the private and public sectors." Applause and reactions of approval greeted the leftists.

The procession organized by the trade unions of public and private sector employees ADEDY and GSEE started from Klafthmonos Square shortly after 11:30 am with a motor procession of local policemen from Athens and Piraeus, followed by several thousands of their colleagues from different government departments. When they arrived at the bottom of the square, the members of the communist PAME were protesting at the top of Syntagma Square. Young men holding red flags and arm in arm had formed human chains to not allow anyone to join the protesters.

This caused negative reactions among the participants in the procession of the trade unions who negatively commented on the continuing practice of the communists to organize their protests and processions and to guard them in order to protect them from provocations.

Thousands of people have gathered in central Athens, chanting slogans against the forthcoming cuts of public workers and against the policy of Antonis Samaras’ government. "The junta has never left. Now it is just dressed in suits and is in parliament," is one of the slogans of the protesters. Thousands of members of the trade unions of public and private sector employees have left Klafthmonos Square and are currently in front of the parliament building on Syntagma Square. A little earlier, the multitude of the procession of the communist trade union had passed by the parliament as well. There have been no incidents so far and it is worth noting that the police presence is not as strong as before.

With the main slogan "We are besieging the parliament – we demand the withdrawal of the bill," the two large unions GSEE and ADEDY have paralyzed Greece in a 24-hour strike thus intensifying their protests against the expected cuts in the public sector.

The parliamentary committee passed the legal text on Monday and today it will be submitted to the plenary of the National Assembly for discussion. It is expected that the law, which will pave the way for cuts in the huge staff of some public services, will be voted on Wednesday.

The main protest will take place at 11:00 am in the central Klafthmonos Square in Athens. The members of the trade union PAME, a body of the Greek Communist Party, will gather in Omonia Square half an hour earlier.

The municipal officials will hold a separate meeting outside the office of their trade union, in Karaiskaki Square, at 10:30 am.

The trade unions will organize another meeting and a concert in the square in front of the parliament at 07:00 pm.

The strike involves all public workers, the employees of local governments, insurance funds, state-owned enterprises, bank employees, doctors and health, transport and port workers. The employees in print media, radio and television stations will stop working between 10:00 am and 02:00 pm.

It is expected that the day of the strike will be particularly hard for the other inhabitants of the Greek capital. For security reasons, the police have ordered the closure of the underground stations in the areas where the meetings and procession will be held. Therefore, after 09:30 am, the underground will not stop at Evangelismos, Syntagma and Panepistimio.

The buses and trolleybuses will run from 09:00 am to 09:00 pm whereas the trains will not be running along their daily routes. The underground, the electric train and the trams will run as usual.

The protests will continue on Wednesday. The unions will hold a meeting in front of the parliament at 07:00 pm and the municipal employees will again hold a separate procession. At the same time, the mayors will gather in protest outside the Ministry of Interior and will then hold a procession to the parliament to deliver a manifesto to its chairman and party leaders. The governing council of the association of Greek municipalities will decide on the next actions of the local authorities after the vote on the controversial bill.

Tags: SocietyStrikePublic sectorCutsBillParliament
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