Greek police storm metro workers sit-in as strike goes on

 

Greek riot police stormed a train depot in Athens on Friday to disperse subway staff defying government orders to end their strike, intensifying a confrontation that has paralysed public transport in the city.

The capital's subway lines remained shut for the ninth day as most subway workers continued a strike against wage cuts. But some were back on the job after being served the orders to return to work or face arrest.

The showdown has turned into the latest test for Greece's fragile three-party ruling coalition as it faces down unions to try to implement austerity measures demanded by foreign lenders as the price for bailout funds.

Scuffles broke out when police forced their way through a metal gate around 4 a.m. at the depot, where 90 workers had gathered overnight in protest. At least 10 workers were detained and then released, an official said on condition of anonymity.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's government has taken a hard line on the strike despite criticism from the smallest party in his three-party government.

"When labour action is judged illegal and abusive, the law has to be implemented. Everyone has made sacrifices and no one can ask to be made an exception," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told state television.

Other transport unions held strikes in solidarity with subway workers on Friday, leaving Athens without bus, tram, trolleybus or rail services, and causing traffic jams across the city.

Public anger has grown against the strike, which is affecting more than a million commuters in a city of 5 million people.

"This week has been hell. How can they expect people to be on their side when they do this to us? We're all suffering (from austerity) but it's very difficult to have any sympathy for them," said 50-year-old Dionisis Kefalas.

Other commuters, worn down by years of frequent strikes and exasperated by the long wait for a taxi to work, agreed.

"Ordinary people are being inconvenienced - as if our problems weren't bad enough," said Daphne Kiritsi, 46, an office clerk, who said she had paid 200 euros out of her 800-euro monthly salary for taxis this week.

The radical leftist opposition Syriza party, which is leading in some opinion polls, said the police intervention was a "barbaric" attack on workers' rights.

Subway employees oppose being included in a unified wage scheme for public sector workers drawn up under an austerity programme that would slash their salaries.

Government orders to return to work, issued under emergency legislation, were being served to subway employees but many had yet to receive the notices and continued to strike, a subway union official said.

Under the emergency law, which is meant to be used in times of war, natural disaster or risks to public health, workers can be arrested and jailed for up to five years.

Subway, shipyard and other public sector workers planned to march on Friday to parliament in Syntagma Square, the scene of sometimes violent protests.

The most powerful unions have backed the subway workers.

"The workers' struggle will continue until justice is had," said Nikos Kioutsoukis, general secretary of the GSEE private sector union, which has called a 24-hour strike against austerity measures next month.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable