Some 2,000 farmers gathered at a rally outside the Agricultural Development Ministry in Vathy Square in central Athens on Tuesday and then marched to Parliament in demand of a number of concessions, including tax breaks and cheaper fuel.
“The problem is that we no longer make enough money to support our families,” Panagiotis Giogas, a peach and asparagus farmer from the northern town of Pella, told the Associated Press. “We are taxing everything now. It takes a month’s income just to fill up the tractor with gasoline. My father and grandfather worked the same land that I do. But farmers will have to sell their land.”
Some 1,000 farmers traveled by ferry to the Port of Piraeus from Crete to attend the rally, while hundreds of others arrived by coach from other parts of the country.
No incidents of violence were reported as protesters marched to Parliament waving black flags and shouting slogans.
Farmers last week called off some 50 blockades around the country where tractors were parked along key highway junctions for about a month. But union representatives on Tuesday said that they would step up their action until their demands were met.
“We are escalating our fight today after 30 days on the streets, in protest at the policies of the European Union and the government,” Vangelis Boutas, a representative for farmers in Karditsa, northern Greece, said.
“The struggle begins now and will continue 365 days a year,” said Thodoris Papaconstantinou, the head of an initiative for regrouping farmers’ unions.