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Antenna: News in English (PM), 98-01-23
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From: Antenna Radio <http://www.antenna.gr> - email: email@example.com
Last Updated: Friday, 23-Jan-98 13:56:22
 ┼conomyA one-day strike brought public transportation to a halt Thursday. State- owned banks were also closed.
Workers are reacting to a government move they say will eventually abolish collective bargaining procedures, replacing them with direct regulation of state industries with government legislation.
There were no buses Thursday, no trams either. And the banks and post offices were shut, as workers showed their displeasure over the government plan to cut the unions out of the decision-making process when it comes to staffing issues.
Finance minister Iannos Papantoniou tried to reassure the unions that there's nothing to fear from his restructuring programme, aimed at shaking out money-losing public enterprises. "This law only concerns money losers", says Papantoniou, "like state TV and public transport, which is getting over 2 billion dollars in government help; the railways, which are also getting in excess of 2 billion; and Olympic airways, which two years ago was over a billion dollars in debt - a picture which appears not to have changed".
The minister adds that there will be no people laid off, even in the problem enterprises. "Our bill isn't about sackings", he explains, "but has to do with organisational matters - things like redeploying staff to areas where they'll be more productive - and with putting an end to phoney overtime claims".
The European Union is closely watching the government's restructuring programme.
So are the unions.
During a rally in Athens Thursday, Christos Polyzogopoulos, president of the country's biggest private sector union, the General Workers', retaliated.
"The long arm of the state can't turn these companies around", he said. "It's been managing them for years, and we see the results. Let the companies solve their problems in tandem with the workers there, in a good climate, and in a way that will serve the interests of the enterprises concerned, but also of society as a whole".
Trade unionists say they won't let the government make inroads into their wage and working conditions.
Nontas Koukos, president of the railway workers, says the government is wrong to say the unions are defending privileges. "Unless the government considers a wage of 600 dollars a month a privilege, or the eight hour day. Those things we defend".
The unions are suspicious that the government's new piece of legislation, which will curtail their input into workplace-related issues in debt- ridden industries, is only the start of a broader campaign to roll back their rights.
Papantoniou says there will be no changes to the legislation the government has pushed through parliament.
 ParliamentThe main body of the government's tax bill was passed by parliament 153 votes to 122, following a heated debate.
New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis once again called Kostas Simitis the "taxation and unemployment prime minister".
The finance minister retorted that the opposition is striking a populist pose to score political points.
"You've failed, you're the government of taxation and unemployment". That was the heavy judgement levelled against the government by New Democracy's
He added: "You've cultivated a myth that you're modernising government and society, but that myth is collapsing today. There is no modernisation, but a return to the past. All you've done over the past two years is impose taxes, increase unemployment, mostly at the expense of the worse- off in society. You've created an obnoxious and cruel image for yourself".
Former New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert noted that the prime minister promised no new taxes in 1998. "He lied", Evert added.
Responding, finance minister Yiannos Papantoniou said New Democracy doesn't have a viable alternative plan for running the country, which is dreaming of forming a government after many years on the opposition benches.
Karamanlis, like Evert in the past, added Papantoniou, merely try to win votes with populist promises of abolishing taxes, which would mean loss of state revenue and a bigger state deficit.
 Karamanlis-ONNEDOn Wednesday night, Kostas Karamanlis told his party's youth section New Democracy will win the next elections.
Cutting the party's New Year's cake, Karamanlis said 1998 will be New Democracy's year.
He called on party members to work for the benefit of the party and the country.
Castigating the government for its social and economic policies, Karamanlis said "Enough is enough. Greece no longer has the luxury of waiting for better things. It's our responsibility to take matters into our own hands as soon as possible".
Karamanlis believes the public sector needs to be reduced in size, and that the state should provide equal opportunities to everyone in the public sector, not just to Pasok favourites.
 European Cities conferenceThe municipality of Maroussi will be hosting the European Cities conference on Modern City and New Technology scheduled to take place in April.
Holding a press conference at the Foreign press offices in Athens Thursday, the mayor of Maroussi explained the purpose of the upcoming conference is for representatives from differing countries to share their views and experiences on a variety of new technological implementations.
The three networks to be discussed will focus on new technology and how it affects day to day life and development in cities. The focal point will be on local administration and public transport.
The first network 'Telecities', encourages european cities with common interests and goals to explore technological applications having to do with tv signals.
The second, "Polis" deals with the use of technology in easing traffic congestion.
while the third network, entitled, 'Infocities" focuses on telecommunication operating within the framework of the Trans-European Telecommunication Network.
 Athens 2004The 2004 Olympics and the environment is the subject of a two-day conference being held in Athens, which will host the games.
Environment minister Kostas Laliotis says the games are both a challenge to and an opporunity for Athens and Greece.
The minister adds that the infrastructure projects that will be undertaken in preparation for the games will actually enhance the environment, and make the city and the country an example to be followed by the world.
Greece's European Union commissioner Christos Papou-tsis told the conference that the EU is helping fund a pioneering energy centre in Athens.
 BasketballTurning to sports, and pro basketball, Aek has all but clinched the home court advantage in the European championship playoffs.
Aek is at the top of its six-team second round group after surviving Parti- zan in Belgrade Wednesday night.
Aek overcomes an 11 point deficit to edge Parti-zan 73-71.
The Athenian team now needs just one win in its final three group starts, to ensure itself the home court advantage in the playoff matchups prior to the final four in Barcelona this spring.
(c) ANT1 Radio 1998
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