Greek police storm metro workers sit-in, strike goes on

Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:21am EST
 

By Karolina Tagaris

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek riot police stormed a train depot in Athens on Friday to disperse subway staff defying government orders to end their strike, intensifying a confrontation that has paralyzed public transport in the city.

The capital's subway lines remained shut for the ninth day as most subway workers continued a strike against wage cuts. But some were back on the job after being served the orders to return to work or face arrest.

The showdown has turned into the latest test for Greece's fragile three-party ruling coalition as it faces down unions to try to implement austerity measures demanded by foreign lenders as the price for bailout funds.

Scuffles broke out when police forced their way through a metal gate around 4 a.m. at the depot, where 90 workers had gathered overnight in protest. At least 10 workers were detained and then released, an official said on condition of anonymity.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's government has taken a hard line on the strike despite criticism from the smallest party in his three-party government.

"When labor action is judged illegal and abusive, the law has to be implemented. Everyone has made sacrifices and no one can ask to be made an exception," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told state television.

Other transport unions held strikes in solidarity with subway workers on Friday, leaving Athens without bus, tram, trolleybus or rail services, and causing traffic jams across the city.

Public anger has grown against the strike, which is affecting more than a million commuters in a city of 5 million people.   Continued...

 
A riot policeman stands in front of a banner at a metro depot in Athens January 25, 2013. REUTERS/Yannis Kolesidis