Hellenic Steel strikers clash with police

Clashes broke out early Friday morning between police and protesting Hellenic Steel Industry (Elliniki Halyvourgia) workers at the industry’s Aspropyrgos plant.

Strikers remain congregated outside the plant, whose gates are now guarded by MAT police, 20 July 2012 (Eurokinissi)

The gate of the unit reopened at 5.30am, after nine months of workers’ strike, on orders of the prosecutor and the intervention of a strong police contingent.

Nine people were taken in for questioning by police early Friday, while one injury was initially reported. Scuffles were also reported between strikers and workers wishing to return to work.
The move to forcibly open the entrance came after labour ministry deliberations with strikers aimed at breaking the deadlock fell through.
The employees’ union is demanding the re-hiring of 120 laid-off workers in order to end the strike, a demand that the steel industry’s administration rejects.
The management has demanded the immediate reopening of the plant before agreeing to any negotiation, citing a recent Athens First Instance Court ruling that declared the strike illegal.
Six striking steel workers arrested during the police raid were charged and released later on Friday afternoon, pending a trial; they are accused of illegal violence and violating a court decision,
The management had informed the labour minister last week that it intends to submit an application to the ministry for mass dismissals and suspension of activity of the Aspropyrgos plant.
Hellenic Steel Industry (Elliniki Halyvourgia) executives told AMNA on Friday that the company management has decided not to go ahead with the closure of the plant.
The executive said the management decided not to shut down the Aspropyrgos unit, noting that following the state’s decision to “restore legality” by implementing a June ruling of an Athens court declaring the strike illegal, the reasons for submitting an application for mass layoffs and suspension of the Aspropyrgos unit have ceased to exist.
The police contingent was deployed to the steel plant by order of the prosecutor after recourse by workers wishing to return to work seeking state intervention because they were being barred from entering the plant by strikers.
Some 150 people were congregated outside the plant, as well as police, as spirits calmed down.
KKE accused the government of being mainly to blame for the “MAT (riot police) raid of the Halyvourgia, on prosecutor’s orders” and charged “use of chemicals against, beatings and arrests of strikers in order to protect the strike-breaking mechanism”. (AMNA)

From Athens News

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