Arab Today, arab today greek police break up 9month steel factory strike
Last Updated : GMT 11:53:13
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Greek police break up 9-month steel factory strike

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Arab Today, arab today Greek police break up 9-month steel factory strike

Athens - AFP

Greek police on Friday broke up a nine-month strike at one of the country\'s main steel plants, arresting six workers manning a front gate roadblock, the state-run Athens News Agency said. Following a court order, police intervened before dawn to open the gates of the Hellenic Halyvourgia plant in the area of Aspropyrgos, west of Athens, but met resistance from the small group of strikers. There was also tension between the strikers and a group of workers who want to resume work and tried to enter the plant. \"It was the workers who called the police to intervene,\" said government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou. \"The authorities intervened to protect the right to work. Over 100 staff asked the police to protect this sacred right.\" Members of the Communist-affiliated union Pame remained on the spot after the raid, causing serious traffic jams on the road. An afternoon protest outside the factory caused additional disruption. The detained workers were released later, pending a trial after being charged for ignoring a court order that had outlawed the strike weeks ago. Their trial date was to be set at a later stage. The radical left main opposition party Syriza condemned the police action as a \"raw, unprovoked, military-type intervention of the special forces against the striking steel workers\". The Communist Party accused police of a \"gangster-style\" swoop. News reports said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had ordered the police operation even though talks had been ongoing since last week between the labour minister, factory owners and strikers in a bid to break the impasse. The local union pledged to continue the mobilisation. \"We will continue to apply a decision taken by the general assembly for a strike,\" said union leader George Sifonios. The factory workers have been on strike since October, protesting lay-offs and cuts in working hours and pay to 500 euros ($614) a month. The privately-owned company, one of Greece\'s three main steel producers, says it is running at a loss but the local union refutes the claim. Management had threatened to shut down the plant if the strike continued. As Greece struggles with a fifth year of recession, unemployment is rising fast and, according to official data, reached 22.6 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

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