The Greek Prime Minister personally intervenes in nine month long factory dispute and orders riot police to break the strike.
Following direct intervention from the Greek Prime Minister, Andonis Samaras, Police have begun a violent operation to break the nine month long steelworkers strike at the Halyvourgia Ellados steel works.
Strikers have fought against redundancies and a 40% pay cut, always against a backdrop of threats from the management and politicians, and often against the wishes of their own trade union.
On Friday morning last week, many police vans unexpectedly arrived at the steel plant. Officers in full riot gear then violently dispersed picket lines and opened up the factory gates. Violent clashes ensued, resulting in nine arrests.
The police remained at the factory throughout the weekend, utilising teargas to drive away strikers and their supporters who were attempting to regain control of the plant.
The strikers organised an emergency meeting and voted by a large majority to continue with the strike. 2000 demonstrators then gathered in Omonia Square in Athens to express solidarity.
Recently, the bosses had made attempts to have the strike ruled illegal due to trivial irregularities in the original vote. The workers responded by having another secret ballot, which again had a clear majority in favour of continued strike action.
The factory owners have had direct contact with the Labour Minister, and the Prime Minister in an attempt to bring the strike to an end, hence the police attacks on pickets.
The Prime Minister is quoted as saying that, “The law will be upheld and people’s sacred right to work will be guaranteed” Presumably, what he really means is that ‘scabbing’ should be a sacred right, or the ability of one of the richest families in Greece to enforce a 40% pay cut on workers should be a sacred right.
The nine arrestees have been charged with ‘ignoring a court order to cease an illegal strike’. A trial date will be set for later this year.
The main opposition party in Greece, Syriza, has condemned the police action as a “raw, unprovoked, military style operation of special forces against striking steelworkers”. The Greek Communist Party (KKE) accused the police of a “gangster-style swoop”.
The workers are requesting that letters/emails of protest be sent to the Greek ambassador – Constantina Zagorianou-Prifti – [email protected]
Messages of solidarity/support can be sent to [email protected].