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Farmers are removing the blockades

26 February 2013 / 22:02:51  GRReporter
2132 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Farmer roadblocks in Greece are falling one after another. The farmers decided at the general meetings, which took place earlier today, to stop the protests that had lasted more than a month.

Only a day ago, their union leader Vangelis Boutas had said that not only would the protests continue, but they would also intensify. It seems, however, that farmers have refused to listen to the "red" trade unionist.

Boutas made his statements after another unsuccessful meeting of farmers’ representatives with Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras. It also involved the ministers of rural development, employment and environment, deputy ministers and chief secretaries of the financial ministry.

After the discussion that lasted more than two hours, Yiannis Stournaras said that the ministers had heard again the farmers' demands, which could not be met in times of budget cuts.

His colleague from the Ministry of Employment Yiannis Vroutsis was the only one to "give" something to the farmers. He announced that an upcoming bill would include a legal text, which would allow farmers who owed up to four thousand euro for unpaid social security contributions to retire. The amounts due would be deducted each month until paid in full. The Minister added that the government was considering the option of giving the farmers the opportunity to retire at the age of 62 if they had 40 years of service.

"The meeting took place at our initiative and at the request of the Secretary of the Greek Communist Party Aleka Papariga," were the first words of trade unionist Vangelis Boutas before the media. The pioneer of the agricultural trade union movement said that the participants in the 28 roadblocks had authorized him and his colleagues to negotiate with the ministers. Boutas criticized the "six roadblocks that have abandoned the fight".

"We are not here to ask for money. We want them to not take any more money from us," he said to stress that the demands of the farmers are not entirely impracticable in the present state of the Greek economy.

At today's meeting of farmers which took place in the village of Nikea in the region of Thessaly, they have decided to remove their tractors from the roads and to "continue to protest in other ways," without specifying what these will be.

According to sources, the farmers are preparing a protest meeting, their purpose being to involve as many of them as possible. It is expected to take place on 5 March.

"Disappointed, but proud," said the farmers from northern Greece, who have decided to withdraw from the blockades near Serres, Kerdilia and the village of Rodolivos near Drama. Their colleagues from Kavala and other villages near Drama halted their protests on Monday. The farmers in the region of Xanthi, Komotini, Alexandroupoli and the regions around them are expected to do the same too.

Despite the decision to remove the roadblocks, some of the farmers in Nikea did not want to "fall" so easily. Some of them tried to reach the Thessaloniki-Athens highway via local roads in order to block the traffic. They tried to get there from different places, but dozens of members of riot forces met the few of them who managed to reach the highway.

The riot forces did not hesitate to use tear gas to which the farmers responded by throwing stones. They withdrew shortly after the clashes.

Tags: SocietyFarmersRoadblocksProtests
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