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Miners pitch tents, want the gold mines in Halkidiki to open

09 September 2015 / 17:09:59  GRReporter
2113 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

40 miners from the gold mines in Halkidiki have launched a protest against the decision of former Minister of Productive Reconstruction, Energy and Environment in the government of SYRIZA Panos Skourletis to block the activity of the company Hellenic Gold.

The miners arrived in Athens by bus early this morning and pitched tents outside the Ministry on Mesogeion Avenue. Wearing their work clothes, they shouted slogans against the former minister and the government, hitting the paving stones with their helmets, "The left is unmasked already. It is the biggest enemy of the workers" and "Skourletis, bastard, you shut down our homes."


The miners hung black flags on the tents and the trees along the sidewalk and said they would stay there until the contested decision was annulled. In their words, almost 2,000 company employees are actually left without incomes, 700 of them have already been dismissed and 1,200 have received a written notification that the operation of the mines is suspended. According to sources, there are only 100 employees at the site, whose task is to ensure that there is no environmental pollution.

According to George Hatzis, president of the association of miners and employees in the gold mines Agia Varvara, the decision has in fact affected the whole region of northern Halkidiki. "I am talking about more than 10-15 thousand people whose existence is directly dependent on the mines. This number includes the miners’ families, 2,000 employees at the mines and another 3-4 thousand people who are related to the operation of mining professions."

 

The miners’ protest was supported by the representatives of one of the trade unions of employees in the Public Power Corporation DEI. Unexpectedly, an elderly man joined them, who appeared with the slogan, "Blacken Skourletis with our votes in the elections."


A few days ago the miners submitted a claim to the Council of State (the Supreme Administrative Court), insisting on cancelling the decision of the former minister. The claim will be considered on Tuesday and the decision is expected a few days later.

However, they will not yield. "We will continue the protests. Some of our colleagues are barricaded in the mines, we are here, others are occupying the sites. We will not stop until we achieve our goal. And it is to go back to work as we did 17 days ago," Hatzis was firm.

He was adamant that purely political considerations were hiding behind the decision that the former Minister had taken the day before the early elections had been announced. "It is more than clear. The fight as to who will win a seat in Halkidiki, the candidate of SYRIZA or Popular Unity, is taking place on the shoulders of the miners."

According to Hatzis, the perception that the local society is divided into supporters and opponents of mining is wrong. "It is not true that we are divided. Just some people who are serving specific interests have managed to spread fear among the residents. Their efforts are in vain because it is clear that there are no grounds for them. The local people already know that they have been told lies for years. The argument that gold ore extraction is harmful to the environment is groundless and this is evidenced by the fact that it remains unchanged."

Commenting on the decision of the SYRIZA government to block the activity of the mines while its pre-election rhetoric is filled with promises to boost economic development and open new jobs, Hatzis said,

"The mines are the main driver of the economic development of the region. We have inherited this job from our fathers and they inherited it from theirs. We will fight to continue mining because it achieves economic development. The gold mining in Halkidiki can become the core of the development of the country. All must understand that at some point Greece will have to have its own industry."

Tags: EconomyCompaniesHellenic GoldMiners protestGold mines in Halkidiki
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