Civil disobedience gathers steam in Athens


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The Independent Online

An anti-tax rebellion is brewing in Greece, where the embattled government continues to bring in new spending cuts and tax rises. Now, even elected local officials are joining the fray in a seemingly random but increasingly prevalent wave of civil disobedience.

Working on the theory of strength in numbers, authorities in the sizeable Nea Ionia district of Athens are urging residents not to pay a hated new property tax which is charged through electricity bills. The local council has now posted instructions on its website on how to pay an electricity bill without handing over the levy.

Furious at a plan that, they say, turns them into back-up tax collectors, employees of the state power company have vowed to prevent people having their electricity cut off – and to reconnect vulnerable groups, such as the elderly or unemployed, if need be. Legal help could be on hand soon, too. The Athens Bar Association appealed to the Council of State last week to have the law repealed.

And Nea Ionia is not alone. Groups of lawyers, trade unions and campaigners have tried to derail government efforts to suspend tens of thousands of civil servants on partial pay. State buildings have been occupied, municipalities have stalled in ordering strikers back to work and state enterprises have refused to hand over lists of employees eligible for suspension.

The backlash comes alongside strikes so frequent that everyone from rubbish collectors to bakers, dentists to air traffic controllers, has walked off the job at some point.