Gov’t rejects forcing strike end

Teachers are set to strike for a third week as of Monday as the government yesterday ruled out invoking a law that forces striking employees back to work through civil mobilization. Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that there is no issue of the government forcing an end to the protest action that has been running since the start of the school year over pay demands. In March, a strike by seamen was ended through a rarely applied measure of civil mobilization that effectively made the sailors conscripts and subject to military orders. The educators are currently demanding a starting salary of 1,400 euros versus the current 950 euros. Education Minister Marietta Giannakou has turned down the demand on the grounds that Greece’s public finances cannot withstand any additional weight. On Thursday, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told MPs that the conservative government remains focused on pushing through reforms in the sector, a move it believes is also backed by the majority of voters. Government sources said that striking teachers are being influenced by the PASOK party ahead of the October 15 municipal elections. High school teachers are set to join their colleagues on Monday and will also walk off the job for 48 hours. The protest action is then expected to take to the streets in central Athens on Tuesday, with a gathering scheduled at Athens University at midday. Street protests earlier this week ended in violence as police clashed with teachers that tried to make their way to the prime minister’s residence.