Tension on labour and prison fronts in Greece

Tension is building up on both labour and prison front in Greece, with 3000 prisoners refusing food across the country, and workers from different sectors staging marches and occupations

A week before the official start of the “unrest season”, the 30 days between the anniversary of the 1973 Polytechnic Uprising (November 17), the anniversary of the assassination of Alexandros Grigoropoulos and the start of the 2008 December Uprising (December 6) and the trial of Girgoropoulos murderers (December 15), things are looking tense in Greece.

On the labour front, although a combination court rulings in favour of private companies and Chambers of Commerce (judging the strike illegal and imposing a penalty of 4000 euros for every new day of strike – the GSEE, Greek CGT, has condemned the court ruling) and renewed talks and promises by the government has led the Peiraeus dockworkers not to refresh their strike against the privatisation of the harbour before all talks are concluded, other labour fronts are opening across the country.

In the Peloponese, limited-time administrative and technical workers of the University of the Peloponese have occupied the administrative headquarters of the institution pledging to freeze its functions until their already 15 year old demands of a permanent contract is satisfied.

In Athens, workers of Aspis, a large insurance company that has gone bankrupt, gathered on Wednesday 10/11 outside the Ministry of the Economy demanding immediate compensation of the workers and a state guarantee of people insured with the private firm, via their comprehensive integration into social security schemes.

At the same time in both Athens and Salonica big protest marches by civil servants on a limited-time contract took to the streets on Wednesday 11/11 noon, against the new labour law discussed in the Ministry of Labour. The new law will change the exams people sit for entering the civil service abolishing interviews and the point-system which gave priority to certain underprivileged groups and the unemployed. Moreover, contacts of limited-time will be abolished and replace by contracts-of-tasks, limiting employment of non-permanent staff to task-specific appointments, thus hampering claims of becoming permanent. It is believed that the abolition of the point-system and the prioritisation of experience over unemployment is meant to placate claims of another group of workers mobilising at the time: stage-employed staff of the civil services.

The greek government has abolished the stage system of employment for the civil services, thus jeopardising the continual employment of 20,000 individuals, on the grounds that it amounts to an over-exploitative method of labour power extraction. As stage-workers have portrayed an unexpected inclination to mobilisation against their layoff, with almost daily protest marches in the last week, the government is believed to have introduced the abolition of the point-system in civil-service employment as a back door for stage-workers back into the civil service on grounds of experience. This tactic is also meant to separate and alianate limited-time contract workers and stage-workers, hampering the possibility of a larger and united labour front.

On Tuesday, workers of the Social Security Organisation of Self-Employed (AOEE) occupied the two buildings of the organisation demanding that 150 limited-time contract employees whose contracts end next Thursday are permanently employed.

On the prison front, in the last two days more than 3,000 prisoners across their country are refusing food demanding the reversal of the last government’s law that makes prison leaves more difficult to be granted, an immediate pardon for all prisoners with five or less years of penalty, abolition of life-sentence for drug-use related crimes, with a maximum penalty of 10 years instead, and an immediate release of all prisoners who have served 3/5 of their time.

The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, fearing a domino and escalation of the crisis like last year’s mass hunger strike, has promised to convene on Thursday so as to find ways to decramp the prisons (the last government had promised thousands of releases for petty crimes that never happened), and for the institution of alternative social penalties on the public and private sector. Judges have expressed their reluctance towards the last measure.

Finally, despite draconian police measures in Athens, a series of banks were seriously damaged in the morning of Tuesday 10/11 in the very centre of the city by a group of anarchists with no arrests being made. The attack took place in midst of torrential rain, rendering the operation of motorised fast-response cops difficult. The attack has created tension in the Ministry of Public Order since a similar attack a month ago had led to the sacking of the Chief of State Security. As a result the Ministry has advised bourgeois media to under-report the attack.

It must be noted that the trial of the cops charged with the murder of Alexandros Grigoropoulos has been deferred from Athens first to the city of Chalkida and then to the town of Amfissa. However both city councils have reacted to hosting the trial, fearing civil disturbances. The lawyers of the family of Alexandros have also reacted, claiming that placing the trial away from the murder scene discourages witnesses to attend it in order to testify, adding that the choice of smaller cities is actually insulting their inhabitants by insinuating that in some respect they are less against the murdering cops that the citizens of Athens. As a result, the place of the trial is currently in limbo, looking likely that it will take place in the special prison courts of the women’s quarters of Korydallos prison in Athens, designed for the trial of people accused as members of the urban guerrilla group November 17 in 2002-2003.

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Nov 11 2009 17:39


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Nov 11 2009 23:28

Forgot to mention that the Union of Basketball Players has announced a two day strike for the weekend demanding a series of labour conditions reforms.

Nov 12 2009 00:04

thanks for this update taxikipali - news from greece has been tense, especially over the last two weeks. best wishes and solidarity in fighting this casualisation and against the repression!

there's also the iranian hunger strikers http://iranianrefugeesfromtipf.blogspot.com/


We are political refugees from Iran, protected by the special status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We cannot return to Iran because we face the danger of imprisonment or even a sentence to death, nor can we go legally to another country.
Although we are re recognised as political refugees, the Greek state refuses to give us our legal rights and at the same time gets funds from the European Union without using this money to support the refugees.
We demand the international regulations to be implemented and the Greek state give us all the required papers (white card, travel documents).
We request the help and the support of individuals and organisations in Greece and all other european countries.
We go on a hunger strike on Monday 19 October, in Propilaia, Athens protesting peacefully until the satisfaction of our demands.

Nov 12 2009 10:06

Thanks AES, I forgot to include it. Today three more prisons have entered the food refusal protest taking the total number of prisoners refusing food to 3,300 out of a total 11,700 in the country.

Nov 12 2009 11:50

thanks taxikipali - your posts are usually very informative and particularly on issues many of us here take an interest in.

(auto translation of) http://anarxiko-resalto.blogspot.com/2009/11/3000.html

In the last 2 days in 7 prisons in the territory of more than 3,000 prisoners (out of 11,736) have initiated abstinence soup, a mobilization that recalls the corresponding last year, so with an unprecedented coordination of thousands of prisoners began abstaining soup, which soon turned to the many hunger strike to meet a series of requests.
The promises-based agitation which has prevailed-the then Justice Minister Hatzigakis mostly not respected and suffocation in prisons is growing.
As the revolt of the inmates in most "prisons" in the spring of 2007 in response to the beating by guards of the anarchist John Dimitraki high security prison of Malandrino.
Among the claims raised by prisoners today are:

* The Deregulation of former Justice Minister, Mr. N. Dendia which has tightened the way in which the five-day permits to prisoners.
* The pardon those convicted by a penalty to five years imprisonment.
* The abolition of life imprisonment for those convicted of violations of the drug, while seeking the highest penalty for violators of the drug law is the ten-year sentence.
* The release of prisoners when they are serving three-fifths of their sentence.

Solidarity with struggles of prisoners, the struggle for freedom will go over the debris and prisons.

Nov 16 2009 19:26