Affrontements à Athènes – 29 juin 2010

Masked protesters clash with Greek police


29 06 2010

ATHENS, Greece — Dozens of masked youths clashed with police at a union protest Tuesday in Athens during the country’s fifth general strike this year against the cash-strapped government’s planned pension and labor reforms.

Riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse troublemakers who threw chunks of marble smashed off metro station entrances and set rubbish bins on fire. Running clashes continued along a major avenue — lined with shuttered shops and banks — as rioters armed with wooden clubs made repeated sallies against police.

Seven policemen were injured in the clashes, and 13 demonstrators were detained, six of whom were arrested, police said. Riot police chased demonstrators into a main subway station, and an AP photographer saw police detain one young man in a subway car, spraying him with pepper spray.

Demonstrators smashed bus stops and phone booths, and broke windows at three shops and two bank branches. The demonstration ended after a few hours, and rioters melted away toward the central Exarcheia district — a traditional anarchist hangout.

However, Tuesday’s clashes were far more muted than the riots that erupted during a previous general strike on May 5, when three people died after becoming trapped in a bank torched by rioters.

The violence came as some 10,000 people took part in a demonstration organized by the country’s two main labor unions and fringe left-wing groups. An earlier separate march by some 6,000 members of the Communist Party-backed PAME union ended peacefully.

Tuesday’s strike shut down public services, disrupted transport, left hospitals operating on emergency staff and pulled all news broadcasts off the air. The country’s airports, however, remained open, and international flights were operating normally although nearly 100 domestic flights were canceled.

Unions fiercely oppose draft legislation submitted to parliament last week that would increase retirement ages and make it cheaper for companies to fire workers. The measures — which include raising women’s retirement age to 65 to match those of men and require 40 years of social security contributions for a full pension — are aimed at fixing the country’s debt crisis, which has shaken the entire euro zone.

« They’ve declared war on you, fight back! » PAME demonstrators chanted as they walked down a major avenue in the center of the capital.

Greece is caught in a major debt and deficit crisis; it avoided bankruptcy last month only after receiving the first installment of a euro110 billion ($136 billion) emergency loan package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

In return, Athens passed painful austerity measures, cutting pensions and salaries and raising consumer taxes, and is now pushing through labor and social security reforms.

Parliament is to start discussing the proposed reforms Tuesday, in a debate expected to last more than a week. Despite opposition from several of its own lawmakers, the center-left government — which holds a seven-seat majority in the 300-member house — is expected to win the final vote.

Tension mounted once more in the country’s main port of Piraeus early Tuesday morning, where hundreds of PAME demonstrators attempted to prevent tourists and locals from boarding ferries to Aegean islands, even though a court had declared seamen’s participation in the strike illegal.

« They want to put us in a straitjacket so we work for free all our lives so that some can have their wealth and get very rich at our expense, » said Sotiris Poulikogiannis, a protester in Piraeus. « We don’t accept this. Day by day we’ll grow stronger and more aware of how to overturn this situation. »

The Civil Protection Ministry said all ships scheduled to leave in the morning did set sail, with about 350 passengers. However, about 50-100 people didn’t manage to board their ferries as strikers prevented them from entering the port. Authorities said their tickets would also be valid Wednesday.

Another four ships that were to sail for Crete and the Cycladic islands in the early afternoon had informed passengers that they would depart at midnight, the ministry said.

A similar strike by two seamen’s unions last week — which was also declared illegal — left thousands of travelers stranded in Piraeus for a day. Shipping companies and officials in Greece’s vital tourism industry strongly criticized the government for not taking action to stop the strikers.

Nouvelle grève générale en Grèce, brefs affrontements à Athènes

France Info

29 06 2010

Les services publics sont de nouveau paralysés ce mardi en Grèce, en raison d’une nouvelle grève générale, la cinquième en quelques semaines, pour dénoncer le plan d’austérité. Les transports publics, les hôpitaux et les médias sont touchés, des affrontements ont opposés manifestants et forces de l’ordre…

La tension est montée d’un cran ce matin au Pirée, le plus grand port du pays, quand plusieurs centaines de manifestants ont tenté d’empêcher les touristes et la population locale d’embarquer dans des ferries à destination des îles de la mer Egée. Certains passagers sont restés à terre.

Devant le Parlement d’Athènes (notre photo), des manifestants masqués ont brièvement affronté la police anti-émeute qui a fait usage de gaz lacrymogènes pour les disperser.

La grève perturbe le trafic des bus, des métros et des tramways. Les aéroports du pays sont toutefois ouverts, même si une centaine de vols intérieurs ont été annulés. Les liaisons internationales sont assurées normalement.
Le mouvement touche également les télévisions, radios et la presse écrite : les journalistes sont en grève.

Cette nouvelle journée d’action a été lancée à l’appel de deux importants syndicats grecs, dont le PAME soutenu par les communistes. Il s’agit de dénoncer l’assouplissement du cadre légal du licenciement, et la réforme des retraites qui repousse l’âge légal de départ.

Le Parlement grec discute aujourd’hui de ces projets de réforme qui s’inscrivent dans l’objectif général de réduction des déficits. Le gouvernement socialiste a entamé une thérapie de choc en accord avec les pays de la zone euro et le FMI, en échange du sauvetage financier de la Grèce via des prêts bonifiés de 110 milliards d’euros sur trois ans.

Greek riot police clash with protesters in Athens


Greek riot police clashed with protesters marching through the capital Athens Tuesday against government austerity measures.

Riot police, wielding batons, fired tear gas at groups of stone-throwing protesters in front of parliament while thousands of striking private and public sector workers tried to run for cover.

Union officials estimated that more than 20,000 demonstrators had taken to the streets in protest just as parliament began discussing the pension reform bill which raises the retirement age, curtails early pensions and cuts benefits.

Police estimated the demonstrators to number only 11,000.

Participation in recent protests has waned, partly as Greeks begin escaping to the islands for summer holidays.

‘The only way we can get the government to listen and to change these harsh measures is if more people take to the streets,’ said Theodoros Pashos, a teacher taking part in the strike.

Elsewhere around the country, tourists were left stranded at Greece’s main port of Pireaus after striking workers prevented them from boarding ferries to holiday islands.

Scuffles broke out in the early hours Tuesday after 500 striking communist PAME port workers tried to prevent local travellers and tourists from entering the gates and boarding ferries.

Only seven out of the 21 scheduled ferries managed to leave Pireaus by midday and port authorities said dozens of scheduled voyages were cancelled due to the strike.

Greek workers disrupted rail and road transport and shut down public services across the country Tuesday in the 24-hour strike, the fifth major protest to take place this year since Athens unveiled austeritymeasures to battle its budget-deficit crisis.

Government offices, state banks as well as tax, municipality and judicial offices remained closed in protest against pension reforms, salary and pension cuts, and tax increases.

Hospitals operated with emergency staff while journalists also joined the strike, causing a virtual news blackout to go into effect across the country.

The gates of the country’s most popular tourism attraction, the Acropolis and nearby museum, also remained shut because of the walkout.

In an effort to protect the vital tourism industry, air traffic controllers opted not to join the strike at Athens’ International Airport but Aegean Airlines said it cancelled 14 domestic flights and Olympic Air called off 34 flights to the Greek islands.

The changes, required by the European Union and International Monetary Fund in return for 110 billion euros ($140 billion) in emergency loans, are needed to help Greece narrow what has become the European Union’s second biggest budget deficit.

Analysts question whether Athens will be able to enforce the tough measures because it has the potential of unleashing large-scale social unrest – more so than any other austerity decision.

Its success will depend on whether the government can maintain a tough stance on implementing all areas of the reform bill, which is likely to become more difficult as unemployment rises and the country falls deeper into recession, analysts say.

The ruling Socialist government has 157 of the 300 seats in parliament, making it likely that the reforms will pass despite criticism.

~ par Alain Bertho sur 29 juin 2010.

Une Réponse to “Affrontements à Athènes – 29 juin 2010”

  1. long live to the international class war!

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