New Democracy’s Turn to Face Worker Strikes

(AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

ATHENS – New Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ honeymoon is over as far as Greek workers are concerned, less than three months after he won July 7 snap elections.

Strikes against the new government on Oct. 2, including by journalists, stopped ferries and transport services whose workers were joined in the action by those in public hospitals, banks and schools.

It was coordinated by the country’s two biggest unions, representing public and private workers who are angry over a new labor bill they said would undermine collective bargaining rights and the right to strike and with the government letting people be fired without cause.

Staff at newspapers, news websites, and news programs on television and radio also held a 24-hour strike but flights were not affected.

Α protester holds a loudspeaker during a rally in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

Mitsotakis’ conservative government is planning to overhaul employment legislation to make changes it says are needed to counter abuse of part-time contracts and undeclared labor by some employers but which workers said is meant to strip their rights.

The former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA faced repeated strikes and protests over then-Premier Alexis Tsipras constantly reneging on anti-austerity promises and burying workers, pensioners and the poor with more brutal conditions and also taking away worker rights.

There have been thousands of strikes in the country during a more than 9 1/2-year-long economic crisis that saw big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions, and firings but as Parliament workers who said they would strike if affected, politicians, the rich, tax cheats, oligarchs and the privileged largely escaping any effect.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

A protester from Communist-affiliated PAME labor union shouts slogans during a rally in Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Strikes against Greece’s new conservative government have halted ferries and transport services across the country as unions rally in opposition to a new labor bill they argue will undermine collective bargaining rights and the right to strike. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
Protesters from Communist-affiliated PAME labor union gather during a rally in Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Strikes against Greece’s new conservative government have halted ferries and transport services across the country as unions rally in opposition to a new labor bill they argue will undermine collective bargaining rights and the right to strike. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
Protesters from Communist-affiliated PAME labor union shout slogans during a rally in Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Strikes against Greece’s new conservative government have halted ferries and transport services across the country as unions rally in opposition to a new labor bill they argue will undermine collective bargaining rights and the right to strike. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
Tourists stand outside a closed metro station during a 24-hour strike in Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Greek island ferries are tied up in port for a day while Athens public transport, hospitals and state schools face disruptions as unions strike against proposed labor reforms. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
A man is reflected on a window as Monastiraki metro station is closed during a 24-hour strike in Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Greek island ferries are tied up in port for a day while Athens public transport, hospitals and state schools face disruptions as unions strike against proposed labor reforms. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
Protesters from Communist-affiliated PAME labor union gather outside a docked ferry during a 24-hour strike at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Greek island ferries are tied up in port for a day while Athens public transport, hospitals and state schools face disruptions as unions strike against proposed labor reforms. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
A seaman sits at the entrance of a docked ferry during a 24-hour strike at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Greek island ferries are tied up in port for a day while Athens public transport, hospitals and state schools face disruptions as unions strike against proposed labor reforms. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)
A man lights a cigarette in front of a docked ferry during a 24-hour strike at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Greek island ferries are tied up in port for a day while Athens public transport, hospitals and state schools face disruptions as unions strike against proposed labor reforms. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)