Friday, 25 January 2013

A police action broke up the strike of the Athens underground workers


Victoria Mindova

On the ninth day of the strike of the underground workers the special riot forces raided into the Sepolia depot station, which had been blocked by the protesters. The police action took place between three and four o'clock in the morning, when the police had already begun to deliver the summonses for the civil mobilization of the strikers.

"When I got home, I saw that a summons had been left for me," an Athens underground worker who wished to remain anonymous told GRReporter. "Under the law, I should respond and return to work because the penalty is three months in jail," he said, showing us the letter and the summons at the same time. By 11 am, about 20 people had come to the depot, who had been summoned in the early hours of the morning. Although the strike has been broken up, Athens will be left without transport on Friday, as it takes technical time to put the stopped trains into operation again.

The police have cut off the entire area around the depot, blocked the local road, which is parallel to the ring road of the capital, and they are not allowing anyone except reporters and the workers who show the summonses to reach the main building of the depot. The pedestrian bridge over the ring road is also being guarded by policemen and citizens are not being allowed to pass on it.

The workers consider the imposition of the ultimate measure a violation of the right of employees to protest when they disagree with the policy pursued. The government’s position is that the blockade of the entire public transport in Athens due to the refusal of a narrow range of workers to accept the coming reforms contradicts the law. 2,500 summonses have been issued requiring the strikers to return to work by compulsion. Less than the half of them has been delivered so far. According to the information presented, about 800 workers must return to work at the depot in order for the underground to start operating normally.
In support of the underground workers, their colleagues from the bus lines have also announced a 24-hour strike. In the late hours of the day, they are expected to hold a joint protest march through the city centre to the parliament building in Syntagma Square. Athens woke up on Friday without any means of public transport except yellow taxis.
The union of underground workers, which is only one of the eight trade unions, states that the government charges that the workers have been paid during the strike are completely false. The trade unionists explain that when a union declares a strike, the people involved in it do not receive salaries for the days when they protest. If the strike of employees in a union stops the work of other employees, the trade unionists are not responsible for the difficulties.
The latest information indicates that the first underground trains have begun running along their routs but the normal operation is expected to be restored over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the traffic jams on the streets of Athens had made ​​the movement in the capital very difficult. The avenues looked more like large parking lots rather than central thoroughfares that connect different areas of the city whereas the bad weather and the rain had further hindered the movement of citizens.

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