Contract workers occupy City Hall for second week

A sit-in protest at City Hall in Athens has entered its second week after attempts by Mayor Giorgos Kaminis to reach an agreement with contract workers over the weekend failed.

City of Athens employees whose short-term contracts have expired are staging a picket outside City Hall. They are protesting Kaminis?s refusal to renew their contracts or to make their positions permanent. The mayor, who says that he is simply following the law, is preparing to announce the hiring of 800 new employees on short-term contracts.

Talks at the weekend broke down after the protestors refused to end their sit-in at City Hall to allow the municipal council to meet so it could vote on the budget. Kaminis had set this as a precondition for any further talks and promised to back the workers cause in his talks with the government.

?Unfortunately, the unions rejected my proposal,? he said. ?They have adopted a stance that from a unionist point of view I cannot understand. They preferred to occupy a building rather than accept the help I offered. The municipality will vote on its budget and continue carrying out its duties.

The law on short-term contracts in the public sector prevents civil servants for immediately reapplying for a job. It was designed so that governments or local authorities could not make permanent hirings through the back door.

Kaminis has said the whole process is tantamount to ?slave bargaining? and that he is committed to pressing for a change in the law so that the contract workers who remain without a job have a better shot at gaining another position in the civil service.

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