NEWS

Union vows to block new tax on property

The government?s decision to impose a new property tax in a last-ditch effort to curb a budget shortfall and meet the conditions of an international bailout on Monday provoked the anger of unionists who vowed to sabotage the new measure.

According to the Finance Ministry?s plan, the tax – which is to cost an average of 4 euros per square meter and is to be imposed this year and in 2012 – would be added to electricity bills to thwart would-be tax evaders.

Electricity bills are already used by the Greek state to collect municipal taxes and the fees of state broadcaster ERT.

But the union representing employees at the Public Power Corporation (PPC), known as GENOP, said yesterday that it would block the tax.

?GENOP will not allow PPC to be used as a tax collection mechanism,? said GENOP?s outspoken president, Nikos Fotopoulos.

In a statement on its website, GENOP, one of the country?s most powerful unions, said, ?PPC is no cowboy or sheriff to put the gun to the head of the Greek people,? adding that authorities should target high-income tax evaders.

According to sources, GENOP staff plan to obstruct the issuing of electricity bills and stop PPC staff from cutting the power of customers who refuse to pay the tax.

Responding to GENOP?s statements, government spokesman Ilias Mossialos spoke out against ?Won?t Pay? movements, noting that Greece?s dire economic situation demanded a patriotic response by citizens.

The new tax was further condemned by the civil servants? union, ADEDY, as another unfair burden on working Greeks who have already been besieged by a wave of new taxes.

The main conservative opposition, New Democracy, also slammed the tax, noting that it demonstrated the ?absolute failure? of the government?s austerity drive.