Unions not able to stop government plans to curb protest rallies

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias appeared determined on Tuesday to press forward with reforms aimed at preventing small-scale demonstrations from shutting major thoroughfares in big cities despite objections by unionists and the main leftist opposition SYRIZA.

Officials close to Dendias expressed satisfaction with the outcome of talks between the minister and the leadership of the two main labor unions, ADEDY and GSEE, referring to “a positive atmosphere and an understanding of the problem.”

GSEE officials painted a different picture, however, describing the talks as a token gesture and vowing to oppose any action aimed at curbing demonstrations. SYRIZA also slammed Dendias’s initiative, saying it was “undemocratic.”

A presidential decree outlining the reforms has already been drafted by the ministry and is expected to be signed in the next two weeks following talks between Dendias and representatives of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Athens Traders’ Association. Businesses in Athens have long lobbied for action to curb protests which have a negative impact on trade.

Ministry statistics show that 796 demonstrations with fewer than 200 people were organized in central Athens last year.