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Greengrocers want to sell without tax control

28 April 2014 / 20:04:18  GRReporter
2314 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Sellers and producers who sell their agricultural goods at open-air markets began an indefinite strike on Monday. Thousands of members of various professional organizations gathered in Athens and Thessaloniki, and held protest rallies and processions without achieving the desired result.

The strikers are protesting against the new draft law introducing changes in the granting of trade licences and in the location of stands, and imposing stricter administrative and monetary penalties on the violators.

GRReporter contacted president of the Hellenic federation of sellers at open-air markets Kostas Kakarandzas who stated that through the changes provided in the bill the government aims to cater for the interests of large companies.

"The most serious problem for us is the change with regard to the renewal of the trade licences which will take place each year. In order to obtain this licence we will have to present evidence that we have fully paid our taxes and social security contributions which is very difficult in times of crisis," he said.

As for the argument that this is a prerequisite for all other professional groups, he replied, "Our case is different because the inability to obtain a licence makes us unemployed in practice. What will the state benefit if we join the ranks of unemployed? This bill is written by people who have never set foot in any market," said Kakarandzas.

In particular, he and his colleagues protest against the following other changes:

- The drawing of lots for the location of the stands every year

- The number of sellers at each market will be defined by the local municipality

- The stands of producers will be located at a separate place from those of sellers

- The fines for the violators will be in the range of 1,000 euro to 5,000 euro and the administrative measures will include imprisonment from three months to one year.


The protest in Athens took place in Kaningos Square after which the participants marched to the parliament. After throwing fruit and vegetables in front of the parliament building, a committee involving representatives of the organizations of producers and sellers tried to meet with competent minister Kostis Hatzidakis and deputies from all political parties. "Representatives of the opposition parties received us alone and completely agreed with our request for removing these changes from the bill. Even the Minister refused to meet with us," Kakarandzas told GRReporter.

At the same time, representatives of the Ministry of Development argue that there is no possibility of changing the regulations of the legal text that is to be voted. Deputy Minister Athanasios Skordas pointed out that none of the sellers will lose their positions at the open-air markets and that the new law will give priority to the unemployed and members of vulnerable groups. According to him, the draw will be held for the sole purpose of changing the location of the stands.

"The people who are on strike and react strongly are those who benefit the most from the allocation of the location of the stands at the open-air markets," he said, adding that the division between producers and sellers will be in favour of consumers and that a third "section" is about to be established for the stands selling organic products.

Those affected by the changes say in turn that they will continue their strike for an indefinite period of time until they force the government to withdraw the bill. On Tuesday, they will hold a protest rally in front of the central vegetable market in Agios Ioannis Rentis suburb in Athens and on Wednesday they intend to open their stands at certain markets in Athens and Thessaloniki and give away free fruit and vegetables.

Tags: SocietyProtestStrikeSellers and producers of agricultural goodsOpen-air marketsMinistry of Development and Competitiveness
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