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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-03-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Unions launch wave of strikes
  • [02] Tsipras: Gov't measures 'brutal'
  • [03] Stocks end 1.67 pct higher

  • [01] Unions launch wave of strikes

    The country's two largest trade union federations have called strikes and work-stoppages on Friday, in protest against the harsh austerity measures announced by the government on Wednesday.

    The Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) has called for a work stoppage from noon until the end of the shift, while the General Confederation of Workers in Greece (GSEE) will hold a three-hour work stoppages from noon until 15:00.

    The trade unions are also organising a demonstration outside the Greek parliament on Friday, during the debate and vote on the draft law introducing the new measures.

    The government on Wednesday tabled a bill in parliament containing the additional measures, at the same time as they were announced. The bill, tabled under "urgent procedures", will be debated and voted on in parliament on Friday, after being discussed on Thursday by the relevant parliamentary committee.

    Moreover, ADEDY is examining the possibility of bringing forward a 24-hour strike it originally called for March 16 to sometime between 8 and 12 March, an announcement said.

    ADEDY's announcement said that "despite the trade union movement's reaction, the government has tabled a bill, to be voted in parliament under urgent procedures, on the unfair, antisocial and antidevelopment measures".

    It charged that the government's measures include a sharp decline in civil servants' incomes, upset the social security system and increase retirement ages, place a freeze on public sector hiring, privatisation of state property, new tax burdens, a freeze on and reduction in pensions, cutbacks in the public investments program, and abolition of the collective labour agreements in the public utilities and state organisations (DEKO).

    A GSEE announcement underlined that "the workers are intensely and radically opposed to the unfair, one-sided economic measures that greatly burden workers, pensioners and the unemployed while leaving business owners, the rich and the powerful untouched."

    The union also warned that the problems of the real economy will be greatly increased with a descent into recession and a massive rise in unemployment pending.

    In addition to the strike, GSEE called on workers to gather in Syntagma Square at 13:00 for a protest rally and said that it promised to cover all union federations and labour centres able to call a 24-hour strike. In the coming days, GSEE's leadership will decide on a further escalation of strike action.

    Major public transport strike in Athens

    Public transport employees in Athens will hold a 24-hour strike on Friday, in protest against the harsh economic austerity measures announced by the government.

    The strike will bring to a halt all forms of public transport in Athens, while Hellenic Railways (OSE) has also announced that it will cancel all its services. The technical staff of the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) will participate in the strike action as well.

    Public transport buses will also stop running in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki between 12:00 and 16:00 on Friday, due to a work stoppage called by the Thessaloniki Urban Transport Organisation's union.

    Meanwhile, the air traffic controllers will participate in the work stoppage called by the civil servants' union ADEDY from 12 at noon until 4 pm on Friday. No flights from and to Greek airports will be held during that time.

    The public transport sector trade unions have stated that more mobilizations are likely, stressing that the government measures will lead to the abolition of collective labour agreements for at least three years and to dramatic wage cuts.

    Media strike, 24-hours in state sector

    The Athens Union of Journalists (ESIEA) has called a 24-hour strike beginning at 6:00 a.m. on Friday, March 5 until 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 6 in the Athens News Agency-Macedonian Press Agency (ANA-MPA), the state-run ERT radio and television, the Secretariat General of Communication - Secretariat General of Information, the Parliament Channel and municipal radio and television stations.

    The strike is called to demand that "the collective labour agreements be respected and the announced 7 pct cut in monthly salaries be withdrawn immediately."

    A two-hour work stoppage between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. will be held on Friday in all mass media.

    A statement issued by ESIEA underlined that "the measures announced by the government on Wednesday constitute a severe blow to fundamental labour rights and conquests and should be withdrawn immediately."

    The striking journalists will participate in the trade union demonstration to be held outside Parliament during the debate on the government-sponsored draft law.

    ESIEA called on the media personnel to mobilize against the unfair and anti-social tax measures, the abolition of labour and social rights, the salary and pension cuts and the suspension of collective labour agreements.

    In a show of protest to the government measures, the board of ESIEA has cancelled a meeting planned for Thursday with Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos.

    [02] Tsipras: Gov't measures 'brutal'

    Opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group president and SYN leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday described the harsh austerity measures announced by the government on Wednesday as "unfair, brutal and criminal".

    In a press conference, Tsipras invited the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the leaderships of the trade unions to join in a common struggle to stop the measures being carried out, underlining that "the coming days will be crucial for the Greek society and the future of the country."

    He expressed optimism that "this policy can be overturned" and stated that the recent government announcements were the toughest measures taken by a government since the restoration of Democracy in Greece, describing them as "an attempt to wipe out all social conquests."

    Tsipras accused the government of "abandoning its socialist ideology" and, referring to the measures announced, he said that they have "no moral or legal basis".

    He pointed out that the government's plan is to have the workers pay for the crisis, namely the civil servants, pensioners, private sector employees and small businesses, while leaving out those who made and continue to make huge profits referring to banks, large enterprises, societe anonymes, the significant property holdings of the Church and defense spending.

    [03] Stocks end 1.67 pct higher

    Greek stocks resumed their upward trend in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, helped by the success of a 10-year bond issue. The composite index of the market rose 1.67 pct to end at 2,048.16 points, with turnover at 201.489 million euros. The FTSE 20 index rose 1.58 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.41 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index fell 0.66 pct.

    Utilities (3.81 pct) and Telecoms (3.33 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (2.04 pct) and Insurance (1.67 pct) suffered losses.

    Allatini Ceramics (12.82 pct), Douros (9.73 pct), Yalco (7.50 pct), Interfish (6.67 pct) were top gainers, while Fintexport (8.33 pct), Trastor (7.87 pct) and Envitec (7.72 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 91 to 85 with another 66 issues unchanged.


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