NEWS

An October of discontent

As the wave of strikes grows, with various professional groups trying to achieve pay increases in the runup to elections, the government yesterday stressed that the economy’s limits had been reached and no more cash would be forthcoming. National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis announced the government’s wage policy on Tuesday, with increases ranging between 3 percent for diplomats and 9.8 percent for teachers. But many groups were still unhappy and either continued their strikes or planned action. Others, such as Olympic Airways flight attendants, joined in for other regions, making October look like a month that will be filled with labor unrest. «These are our final offers,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said. «They are good for employees because they increase their real income. But they exhaust the limits of the economy. There is no more room to maneuver.» The civil servants’ federation (ADEDY), unhappy with a 5.4 percent pay hike, is planning a 24-hour strike on Oct. 23 or Nov. 5 Olympic Airways flight attendants will be holding work stoppages between 8-11 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. tomorrow. They are protesting at management’s decision to send some 250 flight attendants into early retirement while training others. The airline is trying to reschedule flights so as to minimize problems for some 2,000 passengers. State elementary and secondary school teachers, rejecting a 9.8 percent pay hike and demanding a 176-euro subsidy paid to other civil servants, will be on strike on Monday. Secondary school teachers will extend this to Tuesday. The federation of private school teachers has called a strike for Monday but school owners said they had been assured most teachers would be at their posts. University and technical college professors are into the third week of their strike. Court employees were on strike yesterday and will continue today. Tomorrow is the feast day of the judiciary’s patron, Saint Dionysus the Areopagite, so courts will remain closed. Furthermore, representatives of five unions of judges and prosecutors will be holding an emergency meeting today to discuss action following their rejection of a 5.5 percent wage increase. State hospital doctors will be on strike from Monday to Wednesday. On Tuesday, they will hold demonstrations outside Health Ministry offices across the country. They will also be holding work stoppages and demonstrations on October 9, 16 and 23. Agriculture Ministry experts, such as veterinary surgeons, forestry experts, geologists, agriculturalists and ichthyologists are in the third week of an indefinite work-to-rule protest and will be on strike on Monday and Tuesday before continuing with their slowdown again from Wednesday. This has resulted in serious problems for livestock breeders because veterinary surgeons have not been issuing certificates at abattoirs, forcing them to stop. Other Agriculture Ministry employees will hold 48-hour strikes on Oct. 9-10 and Oct. 13-14 and may also strike on Oct. 15-17. Athens taxi drivers have called a 24-hour strike this Saturday and are also sure to join in a 48-hour strike by their national federation on Oct. 8-9.