Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Striking Greek unions accuse government of leaving them powerless

This article was published by Al Jazeera International.
Supporters of the labour union of the Communist Party of Greece marched through Athens on Tuesday.

Greece’s three month-old conservative government faced its first public sector strike on Tuesday, as it presented a bill it says will bring growth and jobs.

Athens city buses and electric trolleys remained parked, as did light rail and passenger shipping. The result was gridlock when commuters took to their cars. Government services were shuttered. Public schools closed and hospitals operated on skeleton staff. The civil aviation authority grounded flights for three hours.

Although Tuesday’s strike was primarily a public sector strike, private sector unions were present. Banks remained closed and some retail, construction and telecommunications workers’ unions joined protest marches to parliament. The private sector will hold its own full-blown strike on October 2nd.

Greece’s tourism industry left reeling from Thomas Cook collapse

This article was published by Al Jazeera International.

Almost one in ten of the 600,000 Thomas Cook travellers left stranded by the holidaymaker’s collapse were in Greece on Monday.

The government said 15 aircraft were en route to fly them from the islands of Corfu and Zakynthos, in the Ionian Sea, and Kos in the Aegean, back home. It estimates that as many as 22,000 of the roughly 50,000 stranded travellers in Greece will be repatriated by Wednesday. It appeared that all of these flights were being chartered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

“The expenses, overnight stays and flights home for tourists who flew with Thomas Cook from now until the end of their booking have been secured,” a Greek tourism ministry announcement said.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Greece vows to “simplify” asylum process, then appears to reconsider

This article was published by Al Jazeera International.

Greece’s announcement that it will “simplify” its asylum procedure has met with such concern from human rights groups and the judiciary, that the government may be reconsidering its course of action.

The two month-old conservative New Democracy government issued a statement on September 1 accusing the previous, leftwing Syriza administration of creating an “absurd… unique, complicated” legal framework for asylum leading to “endless recycling of asylum applications”.

“The government will simplify this system,” it said.

The legal profession believes this likely means an abolition of the appeals process to which an asylum reject may apply, and which is mandatory under European and international humanitarian law.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Is PM Mitsotakis the austerity-hit Greek economy's best hope?

This article was published by Al Jazeera International.

THESSALONIKI, Greece - As Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis mounted the podium at the Thessaloniki International Fair to unveil his vision for a robust Greek economy, he already seemed to have a fair wind behind him.

“People believe there will be change for the better in all things - in the market, in the economy, in education,” says Mariana Valetopoulou, a second-generation business owner in this northern port city’s market district.

She looks back on the left-wing Syriza government’s four-year rule with dread. “There was no police,” she says looking at the street outside her shop that sells sewing and knitting goods. “They didn’t intervene for any reason. There was lawlessness… There’s already more police. You don’t have this licentiousness.”