Unions bridging the divide before TIF

Unionists put aside their party-political differences yesterday to agree on the form which their protest over the government’s labor reforms will take next month after the prime minister lays out his economic vision at the Thessaloniki International Fair. Keeping its promise that it would renew action against flexible working hours and cheaper overtime – as introduced by a law passed in July – after a summer lull, the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) said that it will stage a protest rally in Thessaloniki on September 10 – a day after Costas Karamanlis delivers his annual keynote economic speech. Protests have now become as much a part of the calendar as the speech itself, but unionists were keen to emphasize yesterday that the march is intended to be in support of workers’ rights rather than a vehicle to attack the government. The non-political nature of the protest will ensure the participation of New Democracy unionists (DAKE), although their involvement alone is likely to cause some uncomfortable moments for the government. «The protests by unions have to remain outside the field of party conflict,» said Costas Poupakis, GSEE general secretary and head of private sector DAKE unionists. Union leaders were also adamant that they wanted to avoid any violence during the march. «We are not coming to cause problems for the city,» said GSEE’s president Christos Polyzogopoulos. «We are working to confront problems and the union movement will not allow any opportunity for there to be trouble in Thessaloniki.»

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