Municipal workers gear up for more action

Tension broke out on Wednesday as municipal workers, slated to lose their positions under austerity measures dictated by Greece’s foreign creditors, tried to force their way past a metal fence erected to prevent them from reaching Parliament.

Meanwhile the union of municipal workers, POE-OTA, called a fresh 48-hour strike, starting on Thursday, in protest at government plans to place several hundred employees in a labor reserve scheme.

“We are determined to continue our struggle to prevent dismissals ordered by the troika that the vile three-party government is pushing for,” the union said in a statement.

The action was announced in the wake of a unionist decision not to work this weekend. A separate 48-hour strike has been called for next Monday, while POE-OTA will also take part in a 24-hour strike organized by ADEDY, Greece’s main private sector union, next Wednesday.

In central Athens, protesters threw garbage outside the offices of the Democratic Left party on Aghiou Constantinou Street. Antonis Manitakis, the minister for administrative reform who has in the past pledged to veto any measures allowing for public sector layoffs, is aligned with the junior coalition partner.

Protesters later marched to Parliament, where they knocked down a metal fence blocking the entrance. Unionists remained there until a delegation had returned from talks with government officials. No details about the meeting were made available.

Later in the day, unionists marched to the building that houses the civil servants’ auxiliary pension fund (TAEDY), preventing Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis from leaving the offices for more than half an hour.

“They will always find us in front of them. We will fight to our last ounce of strength,” POE-OTA head Themis Balasopoulos told journalists outside the building.

Unionists also tried to disrupt a meeting between Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis and the head of the European Commission’s Task Force to Greece, Horst Reichenbach. The meeting was moved to a different venue.