Athens.- Reporting record turnout for Friday’s nationwide general strike, the country’s largest trade union organisations warned the government to expect further strikes down the road unless it “stopped messing about with the pension funds”.
“Don’t shunt the debts of the bankers onto IKA and don’t abolish the eight-hour day,” the head of Greece’s largest umbrella trade union group, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Christos Polyzogopoulos said in a message aimed at the government, during a strike rally held in Syntagma Square.
The head of the civil servants’ union ADEDY Spyros Papaspyrou warned that forcing the bill on the bank pension fund through Parliament would not signal the defeat of the trade unions, which would respond by stepping up their mobilisations from the very next day.
Other GSEE officials asked the government to drop plans for abolishing the eight-hour day through a scheme allowing management to decide how to allot working hours during the year and by extending shop opening hours, while others spoke of a return to “the Middle Ages”.
The head of the bank workers’ union OTOE Dimitris Tsoukalas announced that bank workers will extend their strike until next Thursday, when Parliament is to vote on the government’s controversial bill.
He said this would mark the 31st day of strike action and said that OTOE will further toughen its stance, with staff supplying money to ATM machines also joining in the strike.
Other speakers at the rally included a representative of the dock workers, who slammed government attempts to describe dock workers as a “privileged” group, and of the Panhellenic Union of Airline Flight Attendants, who asked that flight attendants at Olympic Airlines with temporary contracts be given permanent jobs.
Workers in nearly all Athens public transport and other public-sector workers’ joined in Friday’s strike action, with commuters on Friday faced with a choice of either buses or taxis to get around.