GENOP sit-in continues as transport strike hits capital

Public transport in Athens was once again paralyzed on Thursday as workers launched a 48-hour strike against the socialist government’s belt-tightening measures that include a move to place 30,000 public sector workers in a labor reserve.

Also, unionists of GENOP, which represents workers at the Public Power Corporation (PPC), continued their occupation of the company’s billing department to stop it from sending bills containing the emergency property tax to homeowners.

Environment and Energy Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou on Wednesday appealed to GENOP to end its protest and said that he would order a prosecutor to intervene if the sit-in continues.

The property tax, which will see homeowners charged between 0.5 and 20 euros per square meter, was designed to raise some 2 billion euros by the end of the year.

?We are here to stay,? GENOP president Nikos Fotopoulos said. ?We shall not allow [the government] to cut the power on thousands of our fellow citizens,? he added, warning that some 700,000 households could be left in the dark should the government materialize its threat to stop power supply to clients who fail to pay the tax.

Public transport workers began a 48-hour strike on Thursday and were due to hold a protest in front of Parliament at 11 a.m. Only the Proastiakos suburban railway would be running. Customs officials also announced that they would begin a 10-day strike Thursday, which could cause shortages of a number of goods, including food and fuel.

Refinery strikes earlier this week saw thousands of cars lining up to fill their tanks at gas stations across the country.

State hospital staff were due to walk off the job on Thursday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Employees at state broadcaster ERT would begin a 48-hour strike Thursday, while taxi drivers will not be working Friday.

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