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"No! To layoffs!"

18 December 2009 / 10:12:26  GRReporter
2868 reads

Victoria Mindova

"No! To layoffs.” This slogan united the protest of thousands of public employees from various union organizations against the reforms of the PASOK government. Another strike attacked the indepted country less than 24 hours after the international agency Standard and Poor's assessed the government's economic plan as insufficient and ineffective and lowered the credit rating of Greece. The protesters merged into one large protest on Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament and stood against the government's recent reforms in employment, social security and the forthcoming cuts in the public sector. They carried large banners reading "We want to work – not to be unemployed!", "Benefits and work for all", "€325 is not enough - give us contracts!"

Public employees from the municipality of Athens had raised a banner, which read: "We want security and legal work, NOT life without a future!" With the reforms to be introduced in the public sector employees will remain on the street after their civil contracts end. Requirements of the strikers are to create a uniform system for long-term contract workers and not renew the current civil contracts every three months with no commitment by the management for how long they will be reappointed. Resentment is reinforced by the fact that workers with a civil contract do not receive social security benefits, compensation for long hours or the right for paid annual leave.

In their march towards parliament the protesters carried black flags as a symbol of not resignation   and chanted: "We remember PASOK in '85 – Appointing was 5x5" as an example of the uncontrolled "distribution" of government posts in the party line in the previous government of the Socialist Party. Participating in the strike were also employees of the Greek state television and radio ERT, who will also be affected by new changes. Currently the total number of workers in the state media is about 6000 people, 1300 of whom are with civil contracts and with the advent of the New Year there is a real danger they will be unemployed.

"We need to make changes, because the system is really not working. Our position is that if should be  layoffs they need to be done based on objective indicators like work efficiency rather than political party affiliations and acquaintances," said an employee of ERT operating in conjunction with the methods of appointment in the administration. According to long term television workers during the management of New Democracy in the past five years, many people were appointed to permanent posts (with unreasonably high salaries) without meeting the necessary criteria and without actually having ever worked in the media.

As a result, the budget of ERT has reached "fantastic" sizes, without increasing the quality of the aired programs. "We want structural changes that will objectively assess the team of ERT and will screen out employees who deserve employment contracts and security for the future," said an employee of ERT2, who has ten years of service in the TV and according to who the media can operate much more effectively with fewer staff if the management takes the right decisions to reform the administration.

Financial program of PASOK government includes the sharp reduction of government spending, which will inevitably lead to layoffs in the public section in all sectors of the economy. Public discontent in Greece is growing daily as a result of the deepening economic crisis. Increasing unemployment, the gradual rise in prices of basic goods and tightening of the market are some of the factors that contribute to the escalation of public restlessness in the country. On Monday, December 21 the 2010 budget, prepared by the socialist government of George Papandreou, will formally enter the parliament for voting.

Tags: Strikes in Greece Layoffs Economy in Greece Labor rights
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