Greek labor unions hold scaled-down Labor Day rallies

Greek labor unions staged symbolic Labor Day rallies on Friday, significantly scaled-down due to the novel coronavirus pandemic compared to previous years when streets were flooded by people protesting austerity measures imposed over the Greek debt crisis.

As public services, stores, schools, private companies’ offices, and mass transport services were paralyzed nationwide due to the coronavirus lockdown, only a few hundred demonstrators gathered in front of the Greek parliament building in the center of Athens.

The strikers raised banners with hands in gloves this time and chanted slogans behind face masks. They also kept distances between each other, following the road markings organizers had taped on streets and pavements.

Even in odd conditions workers should continue their struggles for social justice, protesters told Xinhua, arguing that the impact of the pandemic on the Greek economy, and in particular households will be a heavy blow to be added to the wounds caused after a decade of harsh bailout policies.

Greece exited in August 2018 the third bailout program implemented since 2010. The economy was recovering and labor unions had renewed demands for improved working conditions and salaries, pushing for negotiations with the government and employers associations when the coronavirus outbreak occurred.

The government has said that after months of improving GDP growth rates, Greece faces recession again, like many other countries across the world.

“Violations of agreed working hours and labor contracts have become the norm through telework; dismissals have become the norm… People should respond,” said Katerina Giannioula, a public servant.