NEWS

Police to break up protest

An Athens prosecutor yesterday asked police to arrest dozens of former employees of Olympic Air, who have been causing congestion in central Athens for the past week by barring the entrance to the General Accounting Office, as labor unions geared up for the second 24-hour strike in the past month. The general strike, called by the country’s main labor unions to protest the government’s new austerity measures, will ground planes and disrupt public services and transport in the capital. Today’s main protest rally, by labor union GSEE and the civil servants’ union ADEDY, is to start at the Pedio tou Areos park at 11 a.m. while another, organized by the Communist-affiliated labor union PAME, is to start in Omonia Square at the same time. To avoid additional disruption on the streets, the prosecutor is asking police to forcibly remove about 150 former OA employees whose weeklong protest over their termination settlements has effectively shut off central Panepistimiou Street and suspended the operation of the General Accounting Office, which dispenses state salaries and pensions. Those visiting the city center today are advised to do so on foot, as many roads will be closed. There will be no services on the metro, buses, trolley buses, tram, railway and suburban railway. Only the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP) will be operating between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. All flights will be postponed as air-traffic controllers walk off the job and ferries will remain moored at ports as seamen join the action. Schools and tax offices will close and hospitals will operate on emergency staff. Courts will also be closed as lawyers and clerks stay at home. Meanwhile, trash is expected to continue piling up on the streets as landfill staff press on with protest action. Striking workers object to the government’s new austerity measures, comprising tax hikes and slashed holiday pay for civil servants. Yesterday the president of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), Dimitris Daskalopoulos, said that reductions in the so-called 13th and 14th salaries would not apply to the private sector.