Laid off cleaners protest at ruling party HQ

Laid off cleaning staff from the Finance Ministry staged a protest Thursday outside the headquarters of Greek coalition leaders New Democracy on Syngrou Avenue in Athens.

Protesters, who had tied nooses around their necks in a symbolic gesture, shouted slogans against their dismissal and briefly blocked the entrance to the offices of the conservative party.

They left after a delegation met with Costas Tsimaras, the general manager of ND. The party said it would consider a demand for a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in the coming days.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court put on hold a ruling by a lower court ordering the Finance Ministry to rehire about 400 sacked cleaners.

The ministry had sought a temporary suspension of last month’s First Instance Court decision, which ruled that the government was wrong to dismiss the workers as part of public sector reforms. The ministry argued that the First Instance Court does not have the authority to rule on such matters and that the sackings were in the national interest.

Lawyers representing the cleaners, who have been protesting outside the Finance Ministry for the past few weeks, argued that the government fired the workers illegally and was wrong not to abide by the court ruling.