Greek Riot Police Continue Vicious Attacks On Cleaners!

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Greek cleaners said that they were being treated in the same way that Thatcher treated the striking miners – Photo Credit Marios Lolos
Greek cleaners said that they were being treated in the same way that Thatcher treated the striking miners – Photo Credit Marios Lolos

GREEK armed riot police squads once again viciously attacked the women cleaners outside the Finance Ministry in central Athens last Thursday afternoon.

Four women cleaners were taken to hospital as well as Tatiana Bolari a press photographer. Marios Lolos, the President of the Greek Press Photographers was also injured in the riot police attack.

But once again the riot police failed to push away the women cleaners from the Ministry. Cleaners staged a sit-in in front of the Ministry surrounded by the riot police squads.

The women cleaners had marched to the Ministry building following the Greek High Court’s announcement that the Finance Ministry’s appeal against a court’s decision, reinstating the women cleaners to their jobs, has been successful.

The High Court’s decision means that the 595 cleaners, employed up to last September at tax offices, would have to wait to September when the full case will be heard at the High Court.

The Confederation of Public Sector Unions called a 4-hour stoppage and a rally for Friday in support of the women cleaners’ fight.

From her place in the sit-in in front of the Ministry, Yeorghia Oikonomou spoke to the News Line about the women cleaners’ struggle emphasising time and again that they will remain in the streets until they get their jobs back.

Yeorghia said that the new Finance Minister Gikas Khardouvalis has refused to meet them but promised that he will in the near future. The women cleaners are demanding that the armed riot police are withdrawn.

Yeorghia said that cleaners are determined to put up a strong fight throughout the summer. ‘Samaras, the Greek Prime Minister, is to have a lovely time this summer,’ Yeorghia said pointing out that the cleaners were to decide on all kinds of actions.

‘Of course we have to fight to bring the government down,’ Yeorghia said. She continued: ‘We live in a similar situation when Mrs Thatcher viciously attacked workers and miners in Britain.’

Over 3,000 workers and youth participated in an Athens rally last Wednesday evening, commemorating a year since the Greek coalition government shut down the ERT (Greek State TV and Radio Corporation) sacking all its 3,500 staff, journalists and technicians.

Last month, the Greek High Court ruled that the closure of ERT by the government was legal.

The rally took place outside the main gate of the ERT building, now almost deserted but heavily guarded by armed riot police who were also stationed on the side streets.

Opposite the ERT’s main gate, the sacked workers, who are still fighting for the re-opening of ERT, have rented premises and are operating radio stations and internet sites on www.ertopen.com.

At the rally, a message was read out from Philip Jennings, the General Secretary of the UNI Global Union (uniting media and arts workers) who called ‘on all who believe in the freedom of speech and democracy to support the struggle of ERT workers to maintain an independent state TV and Radio Corporation for the Greek people’.

A delegation of the Finance Ministry’s sacked women cleaners attended the rally with their banner and delivered a message of continuous fight until victory.

The leaders of SYRIZA (Coalition of Radical Left Party), Greek Communist Party (KKE), and ANTARSYA (the anti-capitalist coalition) spoke at the rally in support of the ERT workers’ fight.

But none of these speakers called for the overthrown of the hated parliamentary junta that governs Greece on behalf of the European Commission and International Monetary Fund creditors, nor did they even criticise the treacherous leaderships at the GSEE (Greek TUC) who have refused to call out the working class in strike action in support of ERT workers.

Earlier in the day, some 1,500 media workers, sacked state secondary education teachers, civil servants, and school guards, along with university administrative staff, hospital and some industrial workers and Athens Polytechnic students, marched through the Athens city centre shouting ‘ERT must be open – must be the voice of every militant’ and headed to the Vouli (Greek parliament) and then to the sacked cleaners camp at the Finance Ministry.

Speaking at a media workers’ and journalists’ rally outside the ESIEA (Greek Journalists’ Union) building, Alexandra Khristakaki an ESIEA Executive Committee member and ERT worker, said that ‘the Press and Media unions do not recognise NERIT (the TV station set up by the current government). NERIT is the hard organ of government’s propaganda’. She said that ‘the unions support the struggle of ERT’.