NEWS

Resistance to measures troubles government

Prime Minister George Papandreou?s comment to ministers on Tuesday that Greece was beginning to see the ?first positive signs? from its reforms could not disguise that the government is growing increasingly worried about the resistance of unions and citizens? groups to some of its policies.

Papandreou claimed during a meeting with his ministers that Greece was regaining its trustworthiness internationally and that the structural reforms and spending cuts it has been carrying out were beginning to pay off. Papandreou however recognized that citizens were yet to experience the benefits of these policies.

This somewhat rosy picture was not reflected in a series of meetings that the prime minister held with several of his ministers. One of the main topics of discussion was a seemingly ever more stubborn resistance to several of the government?s recent measures.

According to sources, PASOK is concerned by the hardline stance of public transport unions, which have resumed protests this week and even defied a court decision ruling some strikes illegal.

Citizens? movements, which have covered up ticket machines on buses and at metro stations to protest price hikes, as well as those that have forced open barriers at tollbooths so cars can pass for free are also a worry for government members.

Sources said the government fears that it could be undermined if more reforms provoke further acts of resistance.

Pharmacists, for instance, are going on strike again at the end of the week in opposition to the terms under which their sector is being liberalized. Given that PASOK has to open up dozens of closed professions, the potential for disruption to the government?s work is great.