Greek unions challenge austerity measures as strikes continue

08:25, July 30, 2010      

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Greek labor unions representing civil servants, lawyers and journalists submitted Thursday the first joint legal challenge against the government's austerity measures.

The Athens Bar Association filed the lawsuit, arguing that the policies introduced in the framework of the agreement made in May between the government and the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to lead Greece out of an acute debt crisis, are "unconstitutional".

"Social rights cannot be slashed, despite the negative economic circumstances," the group said in a statement.

Last week a judge opened the way to courts, filing the first petition against cutbacks on salaries and allowances.

Meanwhile, truckers who are on strike for a fourth day against the austerity measures and reforms, scuffled with police outside the Transport, Infrastructure and Networks Ministry.

The scuffle occurred as the truckers' representatives met with the minister in an effort to end a dispute that has dried up petrol stations across Greece.

Police officers dispersed the crowd with tear gas, when a group of the approximately 500 protesters threw bottles of water at them.

The government invoked a rare emergency order Wednesday evening to force the strikers back to work, saying the workers' mobilization has led to losses in the tourism industry, closures of factories and food shortages.

Unionists answered that they will give the keys of their vehicles to civil workers, but will not fully cooperate, unless the government promises not to table a draft bill liberalizing the freight truck market.

Due to the truckers' strike which followed a wave of mobilizations of Greek labor unions in other sectors this year, the tourism industry was once again hit hard.

The president of the Greek Federation of Hoteliers, Andeas Andreadis, said Thursday that each day the situation goes on, the sector loses at least 100,000 reservations across Greece.

Farmers in northern Greece who produce and export peaches, made a plea to truckers and the government to reach a deal and send trucks back to the streets urgently, because they face economic destruction. At least 50,000 tons of fruits are in danger of rotting and 12,000 people could lose their main annual income, if the crisis continued.

Source: Xinhua


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