Affrontements à Athènes – octobre 2010

Greek police clash with protesters after Acropolis shut down

14 Oct 2010

Greek police have clashed with about 150 culture ministry workers who shut down the Acropolis monuments in a protest over unpaid wages.

The workers had blocked the main entrance gate to the ancient marble temples since Wednesday, saying they had been left unpaid for two years and demanding that their temporary contracts be renewed.

Police however entered the site from a side door and used tear gas to disperse the workers, according to witnesses.

The Acropolis, one of Greece’s most famous landmarks, remained closed for tourists after the brief clashes, as police cordoned off the main gate to prevent protesters from entering the site. Greece has been cutting temporary government workers as part of deficit-cutting efforts agreed in an EU/IMF bail-out last May. Ministries often hire temporary workers before elections without having secured funds to pay their wages.

Protesters held banners reading « 24 months unpaid » and « We want permanent jobs ». Five were temporarily detained, a police official said.

Rallying workers vowed to continue with protests.

« We will rally again tomorrow. Contractors will revolt, » Spyros Samartzis, a unionist representing contractors hired by the Culture Ministry said.

Millions of tourists visit the Acropolis every year to see the 2,500 year old Classical Parthenon temple to the goddess Athena and other monuments.

Repeated anti-austerity strikes that shut the country’s archaeological sites and leave tourists stranded at ports have hurt the key tourism sector, which has been down about seven to eight per cent this year.

« No one has the right to close the Acropolis site, to block thousands of tourists, » said George Nikitiades, the tourism minister. « It’s like telling them you’ve spent your money for nothing, you shouldn’t have come here. »

Greek riot police break up Acropolis protest


14 oct 2010

ATHENS — Riot police on Thursday stormed the Acropolis to break up a blockade of Greece’s top monument by protesting culture ministry staff as the government faced fresh opposition to its austerity policies.

The police broke into the monument perimeter through a side entrance and used tear gas to disperse media covering the event as they tried to corner the protesters and empty the site, which was closed to the public since Wednesday.

The protesters, who had padlocked themselves inside the perimeter overnight, grabbed on to fence railings to prevent their removal from the hilltop site overlooking central Athens as gathered tourists snapped pictures.

One protester was detained in the evacuation, an AFP photographer said, but police later said they had released him.

« The Acropolis is a world heritage monument and no one has the right to shut it down and prevent thousands of people who have travelled to see it from visiting it, » deputy minister for tourism George Nikitiadis said.

But the monument did not reopen to visitors as permanent staff staged a supporting strike, and the protesters’ syndicate pledged to return on Friday.

« The protest will continue, » the head of temporary culture ministry staff Nikos Hasomeris said after the police operation.

« The authorities must accept their responsibilities. Today they destroyed the archaeological site, » he said.

The union began the protest on Tuesday, initially without barring visitors, against the imminent dismissal of 320 fixed-term employees whose contracts expire at the end of the month.

They also want the state to settle unpaid salaries which they say are worth five million euros (seven million dollars) over two years.

One German tourist, who did not give his name, said he sympathised with the protesters’ claims.

« I am OK with the protest, but from the other side, we came here to visit the Acropolis and we can’t. This is of course bothering me. I hope that the problem will be solved today, that is what we were told, » he said.

The Acropolis, Athens’ ancient citadel, draws thousands of visitors every year. Some of its marble temples recently underwent extensive restoration.

Greece’s second largest union that represents civil servants, Adedy, blasted the government over the police operation.

« We call on the government to deal with the issue seriously and to consider the painful effects it has on employment, » Adedy said.

Short-term ministry staff with renewable contracts, who say they are at the mercy of layoffs, often shut down the Acropolis to demand job security.

Greece is in the grip of an unprecedented debt crisis and only narrowly avoided national bankruptcy a few months ago.

To reduce costs, the Socialist government has imposed severe cutbacks on state spending and a hiring freeze on public sector jobs.

Greece’s deputy culture minister offered to talk to the protesters but said the government would not break existing employment laws to assist them.

« Thousands of short-term workers have been laid off until now, the law applies to all, » Telemachos Hytiris told Flash Radio.

« We cannot promise them full-term contracts. »

The austerity measures have pushed up unemployment and plunged the country into a deepening recession. The state statistics agency on Thursday released figures showing that more than 600,000 people were jobless in July.

The government is attempting to overhaul ailing state companies that cost taxpayers over a billion euros every year.

The reforms are scrutinised by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, which bailed out Greece in May with a huge rescue loan.

But the measures have angered unions which pledge to fight back.

Strong resistance has come from the railway union, whose members on Thursday staged a 24-hour strike and demonstrated in Athens.

Affrontements entre la police et des manifestants à l’Acropole



ATHENES (AP) — La police anti-émeutes a affronté jeudi des employés du ministère de la Culture en grève barricadés dans l’Acropole, lançant des gaz lacrymogènes pour évacuer les manifestants de l’entrée d’un des sites archéologiques les plus célèbres de Grèce.

Environ une centaine de manifestants ont fermé le site mercredi matin, se retranchant à l’intérieur et empêchant les touristes d’y entrer tant que le ministère de la Culture n’aura pas réglé ses dettes.

La police est arrivée sur place jeudi sur ordre de la justice.

« La police anti-émeute et la violence ne briseront pas la grève », scandaient les manifestants à l’entrée du temple vieux de 2.500 ans. Mais les forces de l’ordre ont réussi à pénétrer par une entrée de côté et lancé des gaz au poivre pour évacuer les manifestants et les journalistes couvrant le blocage. Au moins un manifestant a été menotté et emmené par la police.

Alors que la Grèce a adopté une série de mesures d’austérité pour juguler son déficit budgétaire, les surveillants et employés des sites archéologiques se plaignent depuis un certain temps d’arriérés de paiement. Ils avaient déjà bloqué l’Acropole auparavant mais seulement quelques heures. AP


~ par Alain Bertho sur 15 octobre 2010.

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