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Weak union protest on the run up to the anniversary of the rebellion at the Athens Polytechnic School

14 November 2013 / 21:11:22  GRReporter
1815 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Today's protest organised by the trade union of public sector employees GSEE gathered more than 3,000 participants in Athens. By decision of the professional organisation, the employees in all types of public institutions had stopped working from twelve o’clock to closing time in protest against the mobility programme and the planned layoffs.

The protest took place in front of Athens University and involved former employees of the state broadcaster ERT, university administrative staff, members of the trade union of secondary school teachers and municipal officials, and pupils and students. School guards who are already in the mobility programme were protesting a few metres away, outside the Ministry of the Interior.

Their protest had begun earlier, shortly before the meeting between Minister of the Interior Yiannis Mihelakis and Minister of Administrative Reform Kyriakos Mitsotakis with the leadership of the association of municipalities in Greece. When the second of the cabinet members arrived, one of the protesters attacked him verbally but this did not provoke any tension. The 50 protesters remained in front of the building until the end of the meeting, after which representatives of the union of municipal employees requested, and were able to. meet with the Minister of the Interior to discuss the mobility programme with him.

A little earlier Yiannis Mihelakis had announced the positive end of the discussion with the representatives of the local authorities, stating that the association of Greek municipalities had agreed to contribute towards the acceleration of the procedures relating to the voluntary transfer of employees from one municipality to another. According to its head and Mayor of the Municipality of Kallithea in Athens Kostas Askounis, so far this process had taken about 14 months. He added that this would solve the problem with the servicing of those municipalities that are lacking staff as it is expected that employees from municipalities with excessive staff will be transferred to them.

A little later, the school guards joined the participants in the protest outside the University and together they set off to the Parliament building, shouting slogans against the government, the mobility programme and the cuts in the public sector. Former employees of ERT were leading the procession, chanting the slogan, "ERT will continue to work and will be the voice of every fighter." Close to them, but without merging with the larger protest, 50 members and supporters of the communist trade union PAME were protesting against the same things.

The protesters passed by the buildings of the Ministry of Finance and the Parliament and stayed for about two hours outside the entrance of the Parliament, which had been blocked by police buses and surrounded by dozens of members of the riot forces.

At the same time, the preparations for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the events at the Athens Polytechnic School had already started. They began on Thursday evening with a concert performed by "Mikis Theodorakis" Orchestra, organised in front of the old historic building of the School by the protesting administrative staff and former employees of ERT. Respects to the victims of the rebellion will be paid at the monument, which is in the yard of the building, from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon. As every year, the doors will be closed at night and the students and their teachers will guard the building. Traditionally, the protest march will set off to the US Embassy at 3:00 pm on Sunday.

During the three-day events, 7,000 – 8,000 policemen will guard Athens. Some of them will be deployed along the entire route of the procession from the Polytechnic School to the US Embassy and around the other universities.

The authorities will be watching out to see whether some of the protesters will separate from the rest upon arriving at the Embassy and will set off to the building of the former ERT in the suburb of Agia Paraskevi. In view of this possibility, there will be increased police presence in the building of the state broadcaster and near the office of Golden Dawn, which is located nearby.

The prosecutor’s office in Athens will be available round the clock, and the police will be urged to show no tolerance for unrest and, for this purpose, they will have the right to summon suspicious persons and check them.

The measures will become effective on Friday morning in the area of the centre, which is outlined by Alexadras Avenue, Patission Street, Stadiou Street, Vassilis Sofias Avenue and the surrounding smaller streets.

Tags: SocietyProtestMobility programmeAthens Polytechnic SchoolAnniversaryPolice measures
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