School guards scuffle with police at central Athens protest

School guards protesting possible dismissal ahead of the expiry of their eight-month assessment period clashed briefly with police during a rally in central Athens on Tuesday.

Several hundred defunct school guards, whose positions were axed as part of the government's efforts to meet creditors' demands for streamlining the civil service, attempted to hold a sitting protest outside the Ministry for Administrative Reform. Riot police were dispatched to the scene in order to disperse the protesters and ensure that they did not block the flow on traffic on central Vassilissis Sofias Avenue. They used tear gas, prompting an angry reaction from the protesters.

In an announcement, the ministry said that Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will not be meeting with representatives of the school guards. It did not, however, rule out the possibility that they may be granted an audience with a lower-level official.

Some 2,300 school guards saw their positions axed and were placed in the civil service mobility scheme on reduced pay for a period of eight months. The ministry has said that some 526 of them will be reabsorbed into the civil service to cover staff shortages at state hospitals. The rest likely face permanent dismissal.