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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-02

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM and GSEE trade unionists discuss crisis
  • [02] Vivere, Theros Int'l win tender for Corfu casino
  • [03] Cretan farmers arrive in Piraeus
  • [04] Papoulias briefed by Dimas

  • [01] PM and GSEE trade unionists discuss crisis

    Trade unionists meeting Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday said the premier had treated their demands for measures to curb lay-offs with understanding, promising that the government would consider their proposals and discuss them further. Their talks had focused on the financial crisis and labour relations.

    The presidium of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) - An umbrella trade union organisation representing the largest bloc of Greece's private-sector workers - had asked the government to prevent companies receiving state aid, especially funding from banks via the 28 billion euros support package, from carrying out mass lay-offs. The meeting was also attended by Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou and Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia.

    Emerging from the meeting, Papathanassiou underlined that everyone was aware of the difficulties caused by the crisis and the fact that 2009 would be a difficult year, with reports coming in daily about thousands of jobs lost and salary cuts in all countries around the world. He noted that the collective labour agreement signed by GSEE and employers had a positive income for workers and that the goal was to protect jobs.

    The employment minister, on her part, stressed that the goal was to protect labour rights and support those that were financially weakest, adding that the crisis could not be an alibi for anyone. The government was at the side of employees and those companies that respect labour rights, she said.

    According to GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos, the measures being taken were "aspirins unable to tackle the great disease" and he repeated his call for a ban on lay-offs, saying that he had seen a "desire for understanding" as opposed to a tough stance on the part of the premier.

    GSEE secretary Costas Poupakis said the government had shown interest in the trade unionists proposals and had promised to consider them and then discuss them in meetings with Petralia.

    Caption: Employment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia (left) and Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou (right) emerging from Maximos Mansion on Monday, where they had earlier attended a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the presidium of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE).

    [02] Vivere, Theros Int'l win tender for Corfu casino

    A joint venture between Vivere Entertainment SA, the operator of Casino Xanthi, and Theros International Inc, the operator of Casino Rio, were the highest bidders in a tender to buy 100 pct of Hellenic Corfu Casino.

    Under the terms of the tender, Hellenic Tourism Properties (ETA) is expected to declare the joint venture company as preliminary winners of the tender before an Inter-ministerial Privatisations' Commission reaches its final decision on the tender.

    [03] Cretan farmers arrive in Piraeus

    Riot police blocked groups of protesting Cretan farmers from leaving the port of Piraeus, Greece's busiest, early Monday morning. The farmers, roughly 1,100 strong with scores of pick-up trucks and a few dozen tractors, disembarked from three ferry boats arriving from the large Aegean island in order to hold a protest in front of the agriculture ministry in downtown Athens.

    Police used tear gas to prevent protesting farmers from leaving the port area, which is located in congested Piraeus. Tension continued for the following hours, while farmers claimed four of their colleagues were injured and several others were arrested.

    Tempers had eventually died down by around midday, with the farmers penned into the port by 11 squads of riot police and coast guard officers. They have demanded that they either be allowed to take their tractors to the agriculture ministry in order to meet the Agriculture Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, or that the minister come to the port of Piraeus to hear their demands.

    These include a subsidy per tenth of a hectare for potatoes and produce, lower production costs, return of 15 percent VAT, a check on imported products and restructuring of agricultural land and crops. Among their numbers are the three prefects of Crete amd several mayors on the island.

    Also in the port from the early hours of Monday morning was Piraeus Public Prosecutor Yiannis Sofoulakis, who is coordinating the police operations.

    Meanwhile, protesting farmers in one Thessaly district began to withdraw from their road block on the national highway near Larissa in central Greece, in accordance with a decision they reached on Sunday evening, but those at the Promahonas border crossing in Serres, northeastern Greece were determined to stand fast at a road block that is now in its 15th day and has greatly disrupted transport for neighbouring Bulgaria.

    In statements to the press, the farmers of Serres said they would stay where they were even until Easter, if necessary, unless their demands were fully met.

    In response to the incidents between farmers and police in Piraeus, meanwhile, they decided to escalate their mobilisation even further and on Monday closed the border completely, refusing to let even trucks carrying perishables to go through as they had done on previous days.

    Caption: Farmers with tractors on Sunday 1 February 2009, at Heraklio port, Crete before ready to get on board for Piraeus. ANA-MPA/STEFANOS RAPANIS

    [04] Papoulias briefed by Dimas

    President of the Republic President Karolos Papoulias on Monday received European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas at the presidential mansion for a briefing on the Union's environmental issues. Dimas stated that he briefed the president on climate change and energy issues, measures approved last December at the European Council and the necessary moves for their implementation. He stressed that the EU is also focusing on issues of global importance for the protection of the environment such as the loss of biodiversity, pointing out that a European conference will be held on these issues in April. Dimas underlined that 2009 is crucial for the international negotiations on climate change. Referring to the global economic crisis and whether it can be overcome through a changed position on energy issues, Dimas stated that a package of measures on climate and energy approved in December 2008 provides for measures that promote investments in renewable energy sources and energy saving. He also added that the EU has approved an economic recovery plan focusing on "green investments" aimed at dealing with climate change while boosting economic activity with new job positions. Responding to a question on the issue of landfills in Greece, Dimas stated that it is the obligation of the country and other EU states to observe relevant directives, pointing out that landfills are aesthetically unacceptable, generate public health problems and destroy the environment.

    The Commissioner also presented Papoulias with the Natura 2000 programme.

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