Greek TUC to defy march ban

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State Electricity Board (DEH) Computer Centre building occupied by workers
State Electricity Board (DEH) Computer Centre building occupied by workers

THE GSEE (Greek TUC) has declared that it intends to defy today’s ban on demonstrations and marches which was announced by Athens Area Chief of Police late yesterday morning.

The police chief claimed the ban, which coincides with the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and covers a large area around the German Embassy as well as on the streets and the motorway to the airport, is for ‘reasons of public safety’.

The GSEE (Greek TUC), which has called an anti-Merkel mass rally outside the Vouli (Greek parliament) at lunchtime today, issued a statement saying the rally will go ahead.

The statement condemned ‘the police’s prohibitions, the show of force, the police’s violence, the riot police’s attacks, the injuries and arrests of strikers and trade union cadres, all of which aim to annul our democratic rights’.

At midnight on Sunday armed riot police squadrons stormed the Computer Centre building of the State Electricity Board (DEH) in Athens which had been occupied by DEH workers in protest against a ‘households tax’ imposed through electricity bills.

Eighteen workers were arrested including executive members of the YENOP (the DEH trades unions federation) and its president Nikos Fotopoulos.

Earlier, Fotopoulos had stated that the purpose of the occupation of the DEH Computer Centre was to find evidence of who pays the households tax, implying that the rich do not pay.

Almost a year ago, in November 2011, DEH workers had occupied the Computer Centre building and were evicted by the riot police.

Then Fotopoulos and other YENOP executive members were arrested and charged with offences. Their trial has been postponed for three times.

YENOP called for workers to demonstrate yesterday at the Public Prosecutor’s Office demanding the release of those arrested.

Early yesterday morning, workers at the Dromokaiteio Mental Hospital in Athens barricaded the main gate with bricks and mortar in protest against the government’s health cuts.

Riot police attacked the workers picketing the hospital’s entrance; three arrests were made. Michalis Yiannakos, a hospital doctor, said that the riot police ‘attacked us and beat us’.

He said that the hospital does not have medicines, syringes not even gloves because provider firms have not been paid.

Yiannakos said that doctors and workers have suffered huge wage cuts and many have been sacked or forced into early retirement.

At the same time, he emphasised, ‘mental disturbances are growing due to the social crisis’.