Thursday, 15 November 2012

Greek Workers Besiege German Minister

About a thousand local government workers in Greece’s northern city of Thessaloniki on Thursday besieged a building that contained Germany’s deputy labour minister. The siege was sparked by remarks he made the previous day, suggesting that many workers should be laid off. 

German deputy labour minister Hans Fuchtel is reported to have said that a thousand Germans could do the work of the 3,700 employees of Thessaloniki municipality. He was in the city to inaugurate a third annual Greek-German local government conference. But the timing was unfortunate. On Monday, Greek mayors received orders to start laying off staff, following the passage of an austerity bill last week. Thessaloniki must shed about 100 workers, local union members say. Raw television footage showed them storming the conference grounds with placards and loudspeakers, and weaving their way through buildings. Union leader Sotiris Vaios told The New Athenian that they plan to stay there until they meet with Fuchtel, but they dispersed around noon, eye witnesses reported.

Fuchtel has been travelling up and down Greece for over a year, advising local governments on how to better organise themselves to cope with increased duties and slashed subsidies.

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