Tensions peak over university action

Tensions in the higher education sector peaked on Monday after administrative employees of two Athens universities decided to prolong their strike action into an 11th week, continuing their protest against a government overhaul of the civil service, while rifts appeared between the management and academic leadership of Athens University.

Employees at Athens University and the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) decided on rolling 48-hour strikes, starting from Tuesday, despite warnings by Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos that the walkout is sabotaging the studies of thousands of young Greeks and reports that the government will issue civil mobilization orders to force the employees back to work if necessary. Students too have appealed for the universities to reopen for fear of losing the first semester of the academic year. The government is expected to give striking workers until Wednesday to stop their action before intervening.

Professors at both universities were planning to attempt to start lessons on Tuesday, in a symbolic protest at the deadlock.

The situation was particularly tense at Athens University on Monday night after all members of the institution’s senate resigned, protesting the prospect of police entering the faculty grounds in coming days and at the publication of the names of the administrative staff who have been inducted into a mobility scheme of transfers and layoffs.

Meanwhile the university’s rector, Theodosis Pelegrinis, took legal action against the institution’s managing council for blaming him for the fact that the university has not operated for weeks. Pelegrinis sued the council for slander for 1 million euros.

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