Emergency powers used against Greek Metro workers

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Athens Metro workers at a meeting to discuss the attempts of the government to make their trade union activities illegal
Athens Metro workers at a meeting to discuss the attempts of the government to make their trade union activities illegal

AT lunchtime yesterday the Greek Development Minister K Khatzidakis announced that the three-party coalition government has decided to place the striking Athens Metro workers under the dictatorial ‘emergency powers’ legislation.

This instructs workers back to work through court orders.

The immediate reaction of the president of the SELMA Metro workers’ trade union, Antonis Stamatopoulos, was: ‘This is a junta order. If they have the guts, let them come here in the depot and throw us out.’

The SELMA union issued the following statement: ‘We are expecting support from all trade unions. Everyone should come now to the Sepolia Metro depot.

‘Either us and our just cause, or them and their bosses! Everyone at the depot to resist the junta!’

On hearing the government’s dictatorial ruling. the Athens bus, tram and railway trade unions decided a 24-hour strike.

In a statement earlier the State Electricity Board’s trade union GENOP, the biggest in Greece, has urged solidarity with the Metro workers and called on the GSEE (Greek TUC) leaders to act in defence of the Metro workers’ strike.

The Athens Courts have since last Monday declared the Metro workers’ strike ‘illegal’.

But Metro workers carried on with their struggle against wage cuts and the destruction of their collective agreements.

The Greek government refused to accept the Metro union’s proposal for dialogue on the basis of a new collective agreement.

Instead, the government want to impose on Metro workers the EU-IMF-ECB troika’s diktat for a ‘unified wages scale’.

The deputy president of the Metro workers’ union, Spyros Revithis, pointed out that this diktat means that Metro management would be able to not pay wages at all, claiming that the company is in the red.

Hundreds of transport workers gather every day on the main Athens Metro depot in support of the strike.

But the GSEE (Greek TUC) have remained silent.

Both the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Greek Communist Party (KKE) have condemned the government’s decision but have not called for strike action.