Thursday, 6 September 2012

The uniformed are not stopping work, but protests are continuing

By  GRReporter
More than 10,000 Greek police officers, fire-fighters and coastguard officers gathered at the Kalimarmaro stadium to express their protest against the coming cuts in wages. This is just one of the initiatives which they are taking against the fiscal consolidation measures affecting their salaries. Although the activity, shown recently by the uniformed against the financial policy led by the government, they are guaranteeing that they will not stop working in order to strike. By law, uniformed officers and prosecutors are not entitled to active strike, but have the right to a "white strike". In other words, they can put signs on their uniforms indicating that they are on a strike, but they cannot be absent from work as a sign of protest.

"Even if you stop paying us, we will continue to fulfil our duty. It is our calling. We have sworn to protect the public order and will not renounce this, but today we are here to show that it is not appropriate to make policy on the back of the people, who are on the front line every day." This was said during the Kalimarmaro meeting by a former employee of the fire-fighting forces who was injured while performing his professional duty on Chios. He said that politicians have made a lot of promises during election campaigns, which they have now forgotten. The fire-fighter insisted that governing politicians have to concentrate and to compensate for gaps in the budget, caused by the tax incorrect or by those who have illegally exported their money abroad. Not to resort to trimming the salaries of employees who do their job at a high risk and for a fundamentally low remuneration.
"We do not want much. Do not take our dignity," chanted via the megaphones representatives of the uniformed. They held slogans with different signs: "Our dignity cannot be cut. Our lives are not renegotiated. We will not let anyone rob our lives" or "Stop the cuts, we cannot take it anymore" and "We give our blood and we are given promises."
The salaries of the uniformed officers and those of the rest of the civil service are currently at the centre of the budget cuts. A commitment which Greece committed to fulfil at the very signing of the first Memorandum. The need for cost reductions in the state budget is urgent and there is no other choice but wage cuts in all areas of the public sector. Because Greece's currency is dependent on the euro, the only chance to regain competitiveness is internal devaluation, which mainly affects the price of labour. It has been held largely in the private sector, where the wages have fallen by about 30 per cent in the last three years. It is now turn to the state sector, but there the process is more difficult, local analysts estimate.

At the national protest meeting of the uniformed, representatives of all parliamentary anti-memorandum parties appeared in a sign of support - the oppositional SYRIZA, the Greek Communist Party - KKE, Panos Kamenos's party - Independent Greeks and the nationalist Golden Dawn. All of the political representatives who appeared on the meeting of Kalimarmaro announced themselves against the reduction of the salaries of police officers, fire-fighters and coastguard officers. "KKE supports the demands of the uniformed officers. They do not have to succumb to the influence of the government, which wants to use them to destroy the trade union power in the country", said Spiros Halvadzis from the Greek Communist Party. He stressed that the claims are truthful and guardians of the law should not give up. "Since 1988 the uniformed employees have not suffered such a loss of rights. The government claims that they belong to the groups with a special remuneration, but most take the lowest possible wages", said a representative of SYRIZA. Golden Dawn's spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris was also at the place of the event and was welcomed by the present police officers.
He said that cutting the salaries of policemen is unacceptable and representatives of the Golden Dawn will be side by side with the protesters this autumn. "Let's see what the government will do with the hundreds of thousands of people in front of the parliament," said Kasidiaris.

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