More than 1,000 students staged a peaceful protest Friday outside the main entrance to Athens University, calling for the institution to reopen even as administrative staff decided to continue their action against the government’s overhaul of the civil service and begin a 12th week of strikes on Monday.
Although staff of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) have also been on strike for 11 weeks, protesting their induction into a scheme of forced transfers and layoffs, lessons and examinations are not being disrupted.
The senate at Athens University on Friday sought Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s intervention in the dispute. The premier is believed to have suggested earlier this month that authorities could force striking employees back to work – by issuing civil mobilization orders – if no compromise is found. But Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos is said to be reluctant to take such a step and has been pursuing dialogue with the university rectors.
On Friday, Arvanitopoulos started holding individual meetings with the rectors of the eight universities affected by the mobility scheme and he was to continue with the meetings today. Yiannis Mylopoulos, the chief of the council of university rectors, who heads Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University, said he did not regard the minister’s initiative to hold individual meetings with rectors as “dialogue,” adding that “the issue of the mobility scheme is an unresolved one.”
Meanwhile the Athens public prosecutor’s office ordered an investigation – the third since workers’ launched their strike – into the legal grounds for the workers’ action in view of court rulings that have deemed it illegal.