NEWS

Court rules in favor of contract workers

Dozens of municipal garbage collectors called off ongoing strike action on Wednesday and returned to the streets of the capital to clear up tons of trash after an Athens court of first instance ruled in favor of their appeal for their short-term contracts to be extended.

The court?s decision, which affects 166 employees, is not final but will apply until 2014, when a higher court is expected to rule on another appeal lodged by municipal workers.

Themis Balasopoulos, a spokesman for the POE-OTA union that represents municipal employees, described Wednesday?s ruling as positive but highlighted the importance of a final decision being reached for contract workers.

Despite the court ruling, hundreds of municipal employees pressed on with the second week of a sit-in on the premises of City Hall, protesting the refusal by Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis to renew their contracts or to make their positions permanent. Sotiris Trypodis, a high-ranking official in the POE-OTA union, complained that employees are ?living close to the poverty line? and that their struggle was aimed at ensuring ?that they do not cross this line.?

City councilors were forced to vote on the municipality?s annual budget in a central Athens hotel on Monday due to fears that the presence of protesting contract workers at City Hall would compromise the councilors? safety and ability to freely express their opinion through their vote.