Protesting farmers arrested at border

Police on Monday arrested six unionists from farming cooperatives in the northern prefecture of Serres after they tried to break through a police cordon with their tractors in a bid to reach the Bulgarian border and stage a protest blockade.

The farmers were part of a group of more than 100 who had been heading toward the border crossing of Promachonas to set up a road block.

Hundreds more farmers, from northern and central Greece, have threatened to set up blockades at major road junctions this week in a bid to pressure the government into giving them tax-free gasoline, compensation and subsidies.

The farmers have said they aim to set up a total of 14 road blocks stretching from Mikrothives in central Greece to Promachonas. Apart from cheap gasoline and state compensation for weather damage to crops, farmers are demanding the completion of regional irrigation works and a reduction in the price of livestock fodder.

Over the weekend, Agricultural Development and Food Minister Costas Skandalidis condemned the farmers’ decision to strike as «unfair and badly timed,» though he described their calls for cheaper petrol as «fair and justifiable.»

Yesterday’s action prompted protests from transport unions in neighboring Bulgaria, which called on the European Commission to intervene to avert the transport disruption and trade losses caused by extended action by Greek farmers in January last year.

Earlier on Monday, a group of around 250 former employees of the ENKLO textiles producer managed to reach the Promachonas border crossing and stage their own protest there, demanding unpaid wages. The protesters were all laid-off workers from ENKLO plants in northern Greece.

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