Persecution of Greek trade unionists

More than a dozen Greek trade unionists are due in court tomorrow, and are facing five years in jail for protesting against austeriy measures.

Submitted by working class … on January 9, 2012

Tomorrow, Nikos Photopoulos, the president of the Greek power workers union GENOP/DEI, will appear in court alongside more than a dozen other trade unionists.

The charges levied against them could see them jailed for up to five years. They are accused of the most heinous of crimes that should send shivers up the spine of every decent person. They are accused of, ‘protesting against austerity measures’.

Specifically, they are accused of protesting against a new property tax, which is a flat rate for everyone, regardless of income, circumstances, or ability to pay. Those who cannot, or refuse to pay will have their power supply cut off. It sounds very much like the poll tax, with an added punishment.

For campaigning against this tax, and for a brief, peaceful occupation of a government office, they are facing five years in jail.

Some brief background:

On 24 November 2011, squads of riot police (MAT) stormed the power company’s facilities in Mesogeion Avenue in Athens and violently cleared it of workers and trade unionists who had been staging a sit-in/occupation for a few days. The offices are responsible for cutting off the electricity supply to the thousands of working-class families who have refused to pay the new property tax imposed by the Greek government by order of the Troika (IMF-European Commission-European Central Bank), which is being levied through the electricity bills. The same offices are in charge of cutting off the supply to the thousands of families who, due to the crisis, can no longer pay their bills.

On 30 November 2011, 15 trade unionists, including GENOP-DEH General Secretary Nikos Photopoulos, appeared in court, charged with “obstructing the forces of order” and “obstructing the correct functioning of the public services”. They face prison sentences of 6 months to 5 years without parole. On the eve of the 1 December general strike called by the trade union confederations GSEE and ADEDY, the government decided it would be wiser to hold its fire; accordingly the court postponed its ruling until 10 January 2012.
The defendants are due in court at 9am on Tuesday 10th of January.

Messages of support can be sent via the following link

Nikos Photopoulos has issued the following message in response to the support he has received:

“It is with feelings of great joy and emotion that I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the thousands of our colleagues and co-fighters around the world for their support and solidarity. By standing at our side you give us hope and courage. The flood of your messages shows that the Greek people are not alone in these grim times of injustice.

As the president of GENOP/DEI, a trade union committed to defend workers and their rights, I reiterate our engagement to never compromise, never bend and never lower the banner of the fight for a society of humanity and justice.”
Please contact the following offices, and voice your disgust:

Greek Prime Minister Papademos
[email protected]

Greek Minister of Labour
Ministry of Labour
40 Pireos Str. 10182 ATHENS – GREECE
Fax: +30 210 5295 186
[email protected]

Greek Minister of justice
Ministry of Justice
96, Messoghion Avenue 11527 Ambelopiki Athens -
Fax: +30 210 7755835