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Greek police join austerity protests
As long as bankers and politicians pay their police servants, the police hate the public, and regard average people as terrorists. The police gladly pommel protesters and shoot them with rubber bullets (or live ammunition). Meanwhile protesters carry signs warning the police that they will surely be next on the chopping block of the bankers and politicians.
Now bankers and politicians have become so overconfident that they have told their Greek police servants that their salaries will be cut next year as part of a new austerity package. So will the salaries of judges, public prosecutors, court workers, firemen, professors, and even tax collectors.
Yesterday in the town of Zografou, north-east of central Athens, about 50 members of the Greek Police Officers' Union picketed police facilities, preventing buses from leaving the site. The buses were scheduled to transport riot police to the northern city of Thessaloniki, in order to crush anti-austerity demonstrators. This coming Saturday (8 Sep 2012), Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will give a speech to mark the opening of the annual Thessaloniki International Trade Fair. The Saturday protest was announced by the Greek private-sector umbrella union, GSEE, and its public sector counterpart, ADEDY.
Reuters says that some riot police appeared reluctant to attack uniformed officers. “They make us fight against our own brothers," said one riot policeman.
Yesterday in Athens, 200 judges, public prosecutors and court workers staged a protest at the Greek Supreme Court, threatening to cut operating hours at the country’s severely backlogged courts. Vassiliki Thanou-Christofilou, head of the Association of Judges and Public Prosecutors, said, “We are the only professional group that has so far seen a 38% cut in our monthly net pay, and now the government will cut our salaries further by 20-35 percent. This is unconstitutional.”
Greece's constitution guarantees the salary levels of judges, giving them equal pay with politician legislators and other senior elected officials, such as regional prefects.
Protesting judges and public prosecutors, who number about 4,000 across Greece, say they will not accept further cuts in their salaries, and will step up strike action in coming weeks, and may resort to legal action against the state.
Margarita Stenioti, alternate general secretary of Greece's judges and prosecutors union (Greece's biggest judicial union with about 3,000 members) says that a newly appointed judge in a court of first instance starts at a salary of 1,800 euros per month, whereas the same positions pay 4,000 euros in Portugal and 5,000 euros in Cyprus. “My own monthly salary, like other judges, has been cut by 38% over the past two years to 3,300 euros a month. All our bonuses have also been cut. We don't get any extra pay for expenses, not even for legal books or periodicals, computers, or even travel and accommodation expenses when we go to courts around the country, or are transferred to other parts of Greece.”
Yesterday (5 Sep 2012), state-hospital doctors held a work stoppage and staged a separate protest.
Tax collectors plan a work stoppage on Sept. 18, plus a 24-hour strike on Sept. 28.
They set up mock triple gallows on an open-top van with a sign reading “Troika.” An officer from each of the services — police, coast guard, and firefighters — stood with his head in a noose.
Last Sunday, pharmacists and doctors stopped extending credit to the state EOPPY health fund, which provides health insurance to more than ninety percent of Greeks. Therefore most Greeks must now pay the full price of medicine and health services.
Tomorrow (7 Sep 2012), debt inspectors will arrive in Athens to demand an additional cut of 1.5 billion euros from the public sector payroll, plus 4.8 billion euros in pension and welfare payments, plus 1.5 billion euros from healthcare spending.
According to rumor, the inspectors will also demand that private workers (those who have not yet been terminated) start working six days a week for less pay, with a minimum rest between shifts of only 11 hours.
This rumor is according a leaked email the troika sent to The Greek Ministry of Labour last Friday. The email demanded that Greece further change its laws so that employers can more quickly fire workers, and more easily change employees’ work schedules. It also demanded that the compensation workers receive upon retiring be reduced by at least 50 percent, if they receive another pension, and that compensation for workers who are laid off be further reduced by up to 50 percent.