Unions lend hand to consumers

Two of the country’s largest union groups, GSEE and ADEDY, will march in Athens this evening, lending their support to consumers who have seen their purchasing power drop due to high inflation in the country. Growing discontent among consumers was also reflected in the high participation in last week’s collective milk boycott, according to consumer groups. Private sector union group GSEE and their public servant peers ADEDY will gather in Syntagma Square at 7.30 p.m. to demand the government do more to halt galloping consumer prices. «Corporate interests are having a party and the government is playing with 41, 51 or 101 measures,» said GSEE president Yannis Panagopoulos. «That is why we are inviting all people to protest, react and declare their opposition to what is happening.» Greece’s inflation rate hit a 10-year high last month, reaching an annual 4.9 percent, due to rising oil and food prices. The government has said it will be keeping a closer eye on companies introducing excessive price hikes in a bid to assuage distraught consumers. Earlier this week, the Development Ministry said it will set up a task force to patrol markets and slap fines on firms caught excessively increasing prices. Meanwhile, the Panhellenic Federation of Consumer Associations (POMEK) said last week’s boycott of fresh milk priced over one euro per liter was more successful than expected. »For the first time, Greek consumers appear willing to collectively take part in such action, in a sign reflecting their dissatisfaction,» POMEK said. According to market surveys, milk prices in Greece are among the highest in the European Union. Some 62 percent of Athenians took part in the boycott while the participation rate in other parts of the country varied between 20 and 65 percent. The group said the boycott prompted supermarkets in Athens to offer 5 percent discounts on all their milk products.