Shipyard workers clash with police in Athens

shipyard workers outside the Ministry of Labour

Shipyard workers clashed with police forces in Athens after the workers blocked the exit of the minister of Labour from his ministry following inconclusive negotiations.

Serious clashes broke out on Thursday 15/10 morning between shipyard workers and riot police forces outside the Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity, blocking the main road from Athens to Peiraeus.

The clashes, which left two protesters hospitalised, erupted after inconclusive talks with Minister Lomberdos over demands by the workers of 1.500 euros urgent monthly payment to all workers and unemployed workers of the Shipyard Zone of Perama, a rise of the unemployment benefits to 80% of the salary, the immediate retirement of all shipyard workers over 55 years of age, and a freeze on loan payments to banks by shipyard workers.

The workers gathered first in the central square of Perama and formed a motorised protest march to the Ministry of Labour, in Peiraeos street. There they demanded to meet with the minister and were accepted through the strong riot police forces lined across the entrance of the ministry. After they presented their demands, Mr Lomberdos claimed to be in the middle of other negotiations with unions, and asked two days to discuss the demands with other members of the cabinet.

This brought about the workers' fury, and as a result they refused to disperse and allow the minister to leave the building. After repeated failed attempts to salvage the minister from back doors, the police attacked the workers with blast and flash grenades and tear gas. The workers in response formed flaming barricades, and counterattacked the police, leading to extended clashes.

The police brutality against the workers, two of who were hospitalised, proves once again the empty words of the Socialists who have promised to eradicate police violence and place any policeman who attacks citizens or not outside the force. Typically, the government rep claimed "the use of police violence was necessary because the workers tried to occupy the ministry".