ERT workers refuse to vacate premises, gear up for rally on Sunday

Sacked workers of the state broadcaster ERT that was shut down by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras last week, causing a rift in the fragile coalition and the departure of junior partner Democratic Left, have said that they will not vacate the broadcaster’s former premises in the northeastern Athenian suburb of Aghia Paraskevi.

Hundreds of sacked workers of Hellenic Broadcasting Corp have continued to occupy the ERT’s headquarters and maintain online and satellite pirate broadcasts since the government shut down the station and its terrestrial signal on on June 11 in response to mounting demands by foreign lenders to slash the size of the Greek public sector.

Dismissed employees continued with their pirate broadcast on Friday and Saturday despite a statement issued by the Finance Ministry calling on them to “evacuate the premises… to allow for the unhindered and immediate implementation of the Council of State’s decision,” a reference to a ruling by the court that approved ERT’s closure but called for its signal to be restored. The statement said authorities were drafting plans for the recruitment of 2,000 people to run a transitional broadcast service but did not specify the length of the contracts.

The union representing sacked workers responded defiantly to the ministry’s order, saying staff would stay put.

Meanwhile, the workers have said that they will continue their occupation of the premises and called for a solidarity rally to be held on Sunday evening.