May Day holiday scrapped; union ire

Seeking to make amends for conflicting statements over the past week on the fate of this year’s May Day public holiday, the government caused resentment yesterday among private and public sector unions by insisting that all workers will be expected to show up at their jobs next Wednesday. As May Day coincided with Easter Sunday, the ruling conservatives had originally said the celebrations would be put off for May 11, which would not be a holiday. Then on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry implied that civil servants should be allowed time off work to join the celebrations. Yesterday, the New Democracy government announced that Wednesday will be «a regular working day, both in the public and the private sectors.» Meanwhile, at a joint press conference, the heads of the public (ADEDY) and private sector (GSEE) umbrella unions accused the government of trying to save employers some 125 million euros by scrapping the holiday, while ADEDY denied having struck a secret deal with the government on the matter. Both accused the ruling conservatives of having ignored their «democratic duty» to uphold the holiday, while even ND-affiliated unionists claimed the Interior Ministry had tried to discriminate between public and private sector employees. GSEE and ADEDY have called a 24-hour strike for Wednesday. Spokesman for the PASOK main opposition party Nikos Athanassakis commented that the government should «get serious» on the matter.