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Workers riot in Greece - Emeute ouvrière en Grèce - Matière et Révolution
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Workers riot in Greece - Emeute ouvrière en Grèce

Thursday 26 July 2012

Emeute ouvrière en Grèce

Greek riot police and protestors clash

Riot police used tear gas against striking steel workers Friday, in a rare government intervention into a labor dispute to break up picket lines that have closed a factory outside Athens since Oct. 31 last year. Seven protesters were detained, while an opposition-backed protest rally took place at the site later Friday. It was the first confrontation between Greece’s new conservative-led government and left-wing opposition parties opposed to the country’s bailout agreements with international rescue lenders.

Police intervened shortly after dawn Friday, dispersing dozens of striking workers outside the entrance of the plant in Aspropyrgos, 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) west of the capital. Clashes broke out several times in the following three hours, but police said their use of tear gas was very limited.

The strikers are protesting layoffs at the private Elliniki Halyvourgia plant, which last year employed about 400 staff, and plans by the factory’s operators to introduce more part-time work. "The decision (to strike) was taken by a majority of the workers at a general assembly. That is a democratic right," Giorgos Sifonios, head of the strikers’ organizing committee, said. "We are not giving up our struggle."

Riot police clashed with protesting steel workers outside a factory near Athens on Monday, in a labor dispute that has triggered a political spat in the crisis-hit country.

Police said they used pepper spray and scuffled with protesters, when about 150 demonstrators challenged a cordon west of the capital. No arrests were reported.

On Friday, police ended a strike at the private steel plant that had lasted nearly nine months, clashing with protesters on a picket line, after a court declared the strike illegal.

Left wing opposition parties are backing the steelworkers’ demands, accusing the new conservative-led government of acting like ’gangsters.’ And late Monday they organized a rally in central Athens, joined by several thousand people.

Nikolaos Harakopoulos, deputy leader of the protesting steel workers’ union, accused the government of undermining talks also involving his union and employers to try and resolve the dispute.

’As long as they try to deceive us, the more stubborn steel workers become,’ Harakopoulos told the AP. ’We have made very flexible proposals to rehire workers who were laid off. But, instead, they brought the riot police ... If they use bullying tactics and violence, we will stay to the end - as many as we can - to continue the struggle.’ Protesters chanting ’We can’t live on 400 ($485) a month,’ marched to parliament before the rally ended peacefully.

Unions are demanding that employers at the steel plant limit layoffs at the factory that employed around 400 workers last year, and not introduce part-time contracts.

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