Striking bank workers clash with riot police

Scuffles broke out between striking bank employees and riot police yesterday after law enforcement agents tried to distance protesting workers from Emporiki Bank’s offices at central Sofocleous Street. The protesters were presumably trying to get the bank management’s attention as well as block strikebreakers from going to work. No one was arrested. The Greek Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) called the strike because the unionists object to changes to the supplementary pension scheme of Emporiki Bank, the country’s fourth-largest lender. Broader changes to the banking sector’s pension system caused three weeks of strikes in June. Parliament has since approved the changes but unions are threatening to continue their fight. OTOE said many workers participated in yesterday’s one-day strike, even though it was held right after the three-day religious holiday. The strike was intended to coincide with the afternoon meeting yesterday of Emporiki Bank’s general assembly, which gave the thumbs-up to the pension change. An overhaul of the bank’s pension liabilities is considered to be crucial to the further privatization of the state-controlled lender.