NEWS

Mayor set for talks with contract workers

Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis is expected this week to invite representatives of short-term contract workers at the City of Athens to talks after recently striking a fragile truce with the unionists, who occupied the municipal headquarters for almost a month.

The protesters ended their sit-in on April 15 after Kaminis committed to supporting their legal battle to have their employment deals made permanent. The contract workers were aided in their cause by a significant court ruling earlier this month.

Some 2,000 City of Athens short-term contract workers, including refuse collectors and nursery school teachers, returned to work after the Supreme Court decided that any public sector contract worker hired before May 2001 who continued to work in a position vital to the functioning of their department should be given an open-ended deal.

Although the judgment does not apply to most of the City of Athens protesters, it is seen as favorable for their legal battle.

Whether as a tactic to help end their protest or because he truly believes in their cause, Kaminis has pledged to help the contract workers in their legal efforts to win open-ended employment agreements with the municipality.

The municipal workers have made it clear that they intend to hold him to his word, which will involve the mayor and the unionists arriving at a common position following talks. Kaminis will then put these proposals to the Interior Ministry. The mayor has also promised to support the workers if they take their case to court.

Meanwhile, aides close to the mayor on Tuesday dismissed as ?laughable? claims made before Easter that Kaminis had instructed presenters on the municipal radio station Athina 984 not to greet listeners with the traditional Easter greeting ?Christos anesti? (Christ is risen).

The rumors had prompted New Democracy spokesman Yiannis Michalakis to describe the supposed decision as ?an affront to all Attica residents.? Some blogs had picked up on a rumor that Kaminis instructed station managers to ban the phrase so it would not offend listeners of other religions.

Kaminis?s aides vehemently denied this and said that the whole incident was simply based on rumormongering. The station?s presenters did use the phrase during Easter broadcasts.