Greek PM calls students ‘robbers’

Greek university students march in Athens city centre last Thursday against the government intent to establish private universities. Banner reads 'Permanent struggle'

LAST Tuesday on national state television, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis likened students to ‘robbers’ because they have occupied their university departments in protest against the establishment of private universities.

Mitsotakis stated that university authorities are not carrying out their duties and threatened the university rectors with the ‘law’.

He also said that he instructed the public prosecutors to investigate students’ occupations and insisted that the Bill for private universities would be presented to the Vouli (Greek parliament) for a vote this month.

Last Thursday midday, students replied to Mitsotakis with many thousands of university and secondary school students, along with teachers and lecturers, staging most militant marches in all main Greek cities, while some 220 university departments were occupied by students.

Students decided to call a national demonstration against Mitsotakis’ plans next Thursday in Athens.

But still, the leaders of GSEE (Greek TUC) and ADEDY (public sector workers’ federation) have failed to call out workers on strike action in support of the students.

Instead, the Athens Trades Council, along with many other important trades councils, have decided on a 24hour national strike on 28 February while the GSEE called a 24hour general strike for 17 April – many weeks away from the current struggles that threatened the Mitsotakis government.

Earlier hospital workers – cleaners, security staff, food preparation – on six monthly contracts staged a 4-hour stoppage and a rally called by the POEDIN trade union at the Health Ministry against their mass sacking.

The Mitsotakis government had stated that these 6,000 (six thousand) short-contract workers would be sacked and private companies would be installed.

Following the hospital workers’ protest, the Health Minister Georgiades said that they won’t be sacked and extended their contracts for a further six months.

In Athens last Thursday, some 10,000 university and school students marched to the Vouli demanding the resignation of Education Minister K. Pierrakakis and other ministers.

Students reacted to Mitsotakis’ ‘robbers’ accusation by chanting ‘Mitsotakis you’re scum’ and ‘bankers are the robbers’. Mitsotakis has been a banker in London.

Outside the Vouli, the Athens march was attacked by the armed riot police squads with tear gas but students fought back. Four students were taken to hospital following police truncheon blows on their heads.

Then on Thursday evening, armed riot police squads entered the premises of the University of Thessaloniki in order to attack the students who were occupying the Administrative Building.

In the outskirts of the city of Thessaloniki, many hundreds of tractors have been placed on national roads intending to drive into the city in protest against the EU’s and Greek government’s agricultural policies.

All this past week, farmers drove their tractors on national roads and motorways and into the northern Greek cities of Yiannena and Larissa centres of agricultural produce provinces.