As farmers on Friday vowed to ramp up their protest campaign against social security reforms, planning extended roadblocks of key junctions across the country over the weekend, the government appealed for dialogue and proposed the creation of a committee of representatives from different political parties and farmers’ unions.
Tractors on Friday continued to block major border crossings including Promachonas in northern Greece, where trucks were backed up almost 30 kilometers, as well as toll stations on the national highway and even downtown Thessaloniki, with some 350 rolling in past the northern port’s emblematic White Tower and driving to Aristotelous Square in the city center.
In a sign that they are determined not to back down until the government withdraws its planned overhaul of the social security system, farmers announced major blockades of key points on the national road network from noon on Saturday until noon on Sunday.
Meanwhile in Athens, Agriculture Minister Vangelis Apostolou appeared to soften his stance by backing a proposal by Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis for an inter-party committee to discuss reforms with farmers.
“We invite them to name their representatives and enter a dialogue. The government will be there to hear them out,” Apostolou said.
Opposition New Democracy also expressed its support for the proposal.