MPs were poised on Thursrday to approve the government’s growth bill, which aims to lift obstacles to investment amid protests by workers who fear that the reforms will undermine labor rights.
The vote took place following a tense debate in the House during which opposition leaders took turns in condemning the legislation while a succession of ministers sought to defend it.
Denouncing the bill as the product of “an extremely neoliberal philosophy that goes against the interests of workers and the people,” leftist SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras accused the government of seeking to “trample on workers’ rights” and to serve its “friends and interests.”
Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos challenged Tsipras to name the entrepreneurs or “friends” that the administration is ostensibly favoring, but got no response.
The leader of the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL), Fofi Gennimata, also slammed the growth bill, saying it was “inadequate” for the country’s needs and would not create prospects for much-needed growth. Instead of creating the momentum for Greece to emerge from the crisis, it seeks to boost “the few and powerful,” she said.
Earlier in the day, public sector workers rallied in Athens, protesting chiefly against a provision in the bill that will pave the way for more private contractors to undertake municipal sanitation projects.
University students also took to the streets on Thursday, protesting the growth bill as well as education sector reforms that they say will put state university degrees on the same level as certificates from private colleges.
A student and a police officer were injured in clashes that broke out during the rally.