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Athens: Gov’t – public transport workers conflict escalates after “civil mobilization” decision

Disagreement among Greek coalition government partners and escalation of the public transport workers-government conflict are emerging from the decision to impose the measure of  ‘civil mobilization’ against striking Metro workers.  The proposal of civil mobilization was submitted by Transport Minister Costis Hadjidakis and was accepted by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. While coalition government partner PASOK supports it, junior partner Democratic Left rejects it as ‘extreme crisis management option’.

On the eighth day of metro workers strike, Transportation Minister announced on Thursday, that the government will issue ‘civil mobilization’ order to force Athens metro workers to return to work and resume the metro operation.

“Unionists have decided to take the path of blind confrontation and not to respect the decisions of Greek justice,” said Hatzidakis adding that the government was left with no other option.

“We cannot be hostages of guilds’ mentalities,” Hajdidakis stressed but refrained from elaborating whether workers refusing to comply with civil mobilization orders would be fired.

According to state broadcaster NET TV, the Transport ministry is to send the civil mobilization order’ to workers’ homes within the next hours, expecting them to comply immediately.

Workers’ reactions

Prompt was the answer of the public transport unions with the Metro workers to declare, they would not step back, Proastiakos workers to declare 24-hour strikes and bus workers to threaten with a total public transport black out in Athens. 

“The seven years of the junta were communists when compared to them. Let them come and take our heads. The meeting of  bus workers union was interrupted and everyone come here. We barricade ourselves and resist,” Antonis Stamatopoulos, president of metro workers union told NewsIt right after Hadjidakis’ announcement.

“Public transport in Attica will deaden,” Alexandros Kominis, president of buses workers union, told the same news portal.

As answer to government civil mobilization decision, workers at buses, urban train ISAP/HSAP and tram decided to extend Thursday’s work stoppage until the evening, while Proastiakos will launch 24-hour repeated strikes as of tomorrow, Friday, January 25th 2013. Trains will be on strike as of Saturday, Jan 26/2013 (state broadcaster NET TV)

Private sector union GSEE called the government to withdraw the civil mobilization order.

All public transport unions are to hold a meeting later today and decide about their further actions.

Earlier, public transport union had asked the government to delay their inclusion to Troika imposed ‘new payroll structure for all civil servants’ and to sign a new collective bargain agreement. Workers oppose a further reduction of their salaries, claiming that with the new payroll wages  will drop from 780 euro per month down to 580 euro. [that is the minimum wage which in fact does not directly affect public transport workers who enjoy higher salaries including overtime allowances, bonuses and other benefits].

To options of civil mobilization and lay-offs, public transport unions had threaten, they would bring ‘everything and everywhere to standstill.”

What is civil mobilization?

The measure of civil mobilization mean that once employees receive the civil mobilization order issued on their name, they will have to return to work. If they fail to comply with the order, they can be fired or go to jail.

 The civil mobilization law issued in 1974 has been applied eight times since then against bank employees, truck drivers, Olympic airways pilots, seamen and street cleaners.

Public opinion

 Greek public opinion seems to be divided over the public transport strikes. Some -even public transport passengers – support the strikes saying “workers can claim rights only through strikes” and “what should they do if they don’t get paid?”. Others support the idea of ‘firing the striking workers”.

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  1. Do you know if Metro work and elektriko work Friady, I have to work at a Laiki but maybe I lose work again if no metro 😉

  2. “workers can claim rights only through strikes”

    This notion is at the root of almost all problems Greece and the Greeks are facing. Everybody likes to talk. Nobody ever does listen. And for sure all sides are never ever negotiating with the common goal to reach an agreement that is beneficial for all. No, from politics down to even personal contacts it is confrontation, confrontation and more confrontation until someone or something breaks. And in the good ol’ days there was the preferred option of selling out/paying off before any dialogue even started.

    If they fail to comply with the order, they can be fired or go to jail.

    Weren’t the truck drivers the last that got this ‘Civil Mobilization’ order? When I remember right, the truck drivers at first did not flinch and de government did not act… again. I don’t remember (yes, age is a cruel thing…) how long it took before we could fill up our cars with gasoline again, but in my memory it took almost a week?
    Let’s see how it is played out this time… and hope nobody gets hurt in the process.

  3. You gotta feel sorry for the union hacks. Their corrupt unions are falling apart and soon they may have to work for a living. HA HA HA HA..

  4. keeptalkinggreece

    truck drivers: the ministry had apparently issued the orders byt there were distributions …problems. Most likley because the ministry took the decision for civil mobilization but at the same time was in negotiations with the truck onwers how to end the strike. 2.5 years later the profession is still ‘closed’. see how things work here?

  5. keeptalkinggreece

    no final decisions until now, I will post once I know. so far it looks only blue buses, trolley & Proastiakos will be on 24h strike on Friday.
    maybe you start …walking? Lose work? where will they find workers who own no cars?
    get a bike maybe?

  6. John, if only we could bring back President Reagan for one final engagement. President Reagan fires all Greeks who strike once an order is given for Civil Mobility, or Martian Law (was it Antonis who said this?).

    Greece needs a strong leader who is not afraid to stand up to the union hacks.

  7. KTG, I wouldn’t recommend that Kunta get a bike as you saw what happened to the last immigrant who rode a bike down the wrong street. We need to get those metros working so good people like Kunta and others can get to work. Ok, go ahead Ephilant, I’m waiting for the leftist lecture on why strikers are right and bad man employer are wrong. But, as my Professor says, can you make a point for the other side? Do you think it’s right for these pirates to just hijack society because all the government of Greece is asking is to make them fall under the same rules as all the other chain smoking, coffee drinking civil servants (OK, just a joke about that last part)

  8. keeptalkinggreece

    a strong american leader or a british one (thatcher)? hehe, clever guys :p

  9. As I have said on more than one occasion, I don’t actually agree with the way a strike is executed. I am most definitely agree with the undeniable right to protect earnings and living standards, especially if the reduction thereof only serves to make the rich even richer..

    The richest 1 percent has increased its income by 60 percent in the last 20 years with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process

    the full report here:

    A strike should not be a sledge hammer approach hitting anything and everybody in sight, rather it should be a surgically executed exercise in hitting and hurting those it is aimed at hard and very painfully. What keeps a government going? Revenue. So that is where you hit them. Even with a strike. Keep the metro going so good souls like yourself can go to work, just don’t charge for the ride.
    You might also want to ask your professor to explain to you why this is not a employee-employer situation but very much a case of people protecting their very livelhood which they see others all around losing rapidly. While those who caused the mayhem we are all paying for are getting richer from it! And I refer to the above mentioned Oxfam report again…

  10. or Martian Law (was it Antonis who said this?)

    Nope, I copy/pasted a direct quote from the eKathimerini.
    But come to think of it, most Greek laws are probably writen by a Martian? LOL

  11. Yep. Structural changes still have not even begun. Only sucking the life out of the taxpayers to finance it.

  12. Now that’s a good idea. Why not let us all ride for free. That actually might have more sympathy from the masses than not allowing us to get to work. But, what would be the response I wonder?

  13. Ticket inspectors are a different, yellow union and the lickspittles ain’t striking. That’s not very patriotic not wanting to ride for free, is it though?

  14. I think he means one with a little moustache or a jutting chin, because that always satisfies the freudian urges and never leads to anything bad. 😉

  15. I have a little mustache too, looks like young Morgan freeman

  16. Where does the “Patriotic” thing come from? Yet another false emotion used by the powers that be to try and bully people into acting in a specific, power-maintaining fashion. If they want everybody to be “patriotic”, start by giving some example and stop bleeding the country dry.
    This has nothing to do with being “patriotic” or not. This is people trying to safeguard at least some reasonable standard of living which is being threatened.

  17. There you go kids: “Once a Martian always a Grecian”. George W. Bush (*) referred to the people of Greece as Grecians. Rather do blame Keats’ use of the word in the title of his “Ode on a Grecian Urn” was far from isolated in the 19th century, and even at present there are Greek Orthodox churches in America (USA?) that choose to label the festivals they organize as Grecian rather than Greek.

    (*) Maureen Dowd (famous NYT’s columnist) says the fact that George W. Bush ”spoke of our NATO allies ‘the Grecians’ during the campaign is a giveaway he’s not reading Edith Hamilton.” Quite so. Obviously, the president-elect has been reading Plutarch’s ”Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans,” specifically, the Dryden translation.