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POLICE fired tear gas at protesters in Athens today who were demonstrating against a government attack on the right to strike.
More than 20,000 people marched in the Greek capital as parliament was set to approve an austerity Bill, potentially the last major cuts package in the country’s latest bailout programme.
Ferry workers staged a 24-hour strike in protest at the package, which includes measures limiting trade unions’ ability to take industrial action.
Public transport in Athens was also affected as metro workers walked out.
The communist-affiliated Pame union federation, which took part in the demonstration, called on other unions to give a “militant response” to the Syriza-led government’s latest anti-worker measures. It also appealed for international support for the struggle.
Greece has been unable to raise money on the international bond markets since 2010 and has implemented years of austerity, including slashing workers’ terms and conditions and pension rights, in return for a series of EU bailouts benefiting foreign banks.
Currently, unions need the support of a third of their members to take lawful industrial action, but the new law would raise the benchmark to just over 50 per cent.
Greece’s creditors hope this would reduce the frequency and number of strikes and improve productivity.
However, Pame accused the Syriza-led government of “imposing the demands of big capital” by attacking workers’ rights in order to protect big-business profitability.
Retired ship officer George Papaspyropoulos said that abolition of the right to strike “only happened during the [1967-74] junta.
“This government is leftist in name only. In deeds, it’s a junta,” he added.
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