Labor clashes at defense ministry, police HQ

Tension broke out outside the police headquarters in Athens on Thursday as shipyard employees turned up to demonstrate against the arrests of fellow workers during a protest earlier in the day.

At least three people were injured during scuffles.

Earlier, police arrested four workers and briefly detained another 110 during clashes at the defense ministry with some 250 workers from the Hellenic Skaramangas shipyard.

A group of protesters forced open the shuttered entrance to the ministry complex, crossing the courtyard and blocking the entrance to the general staff building. Riot police were called in to force back the demonstrators who were chanting ?We want solutions, not layoffs!? and who demanded a meeting with ministry officials.

?First get off my base,? Gen. Michalis Kostarakos is said to have told the protesters, arguing the military had no part in the shipyard workers? dispute with the government.

Workers from the Skaramangas shipyards, which deals mainly with military contacts, say they have not been paid in six months.

Unionists representing GSEE and ADEDY, Greece's biggest unions, as well as Public Power Corporation (PPC) and the Athens metro also joined forces with the protesters outside the police headquarters on Alexandras Avenue, also known as GADA.

?It is unacceptable that those who have trampled upon everything that we hold dear, that have led to the impoverishment of thousands of Greek families, to now arrest those workers for demanding their rights,? said GSEE chief Yiannis Panagopoulos.

The coalition government is currently preparing a major new austerity package demanded by the troika of international creditors.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said Wednesday there were still considerable differences between the coalition government and Greece?s debt inspectors from the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank over the new austerity package. But he said he hoped to clinch a deal by next week. [Combined reports]