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Society

Protesting Greek Farmers Park Tractors On National Highway

January 25, 2018

Their protests against austerity measures and social security hikes haven’t worked yet but Greek farmers no Jan. 25 stepped up demonstrations by parking their tractors at a major junction on a national highway, all ignored by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition.

The head of the union representing farmers from Trikala, Apostolos Thomopoulos, told the Athens News Aency said that protesters would reinforce the road block every day, bringing more and more tractors after previously parking them by the side of roads while traffic went by.

Farmers want lower production costs, tax-free oil, better rates for electricity and water, the abolition of value-added tax on agricultural supplies and vehicles, and exemption from the hated ENFIA property tax surcharge that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he would scrap but continued to impose after reneging on anti-austerity promises.

The blockades have become almost an annual event sideshow ignored by the government even though they sometimes last for weeks and disrupt traffic and the flow of goods out of the country.

The head of farmers’ groups from Karditsa, Vangelis Boutas, earlier said producers would escalate their action. “There is no other path than the path of resistance and unity with other working-class groups,” he said, according to Kathimerini.

They did the same last year but ended the blockades in mid-February without gaining anything while demanding changes to measures including tax and social security hikes they couldn’t stop.
The farmers last year used their tractors and equipment, primarily in northern Greece and along the borders with Bulgaria and FYROM, preventing the movement of cargo to those countries and cutting into Greek exports.

Two years ago in February more than a dozen tractors rolled through Athens, honking horns and flashing lights outside parliament as thousands of Greek farmers thronged the capital’s main Syntagma Square to protest tax hikes and pension reforms.

Bailout lenders demanded that Greece scrap tax breaks for farmers and impose pension reforms that will lead to higher monthly contributions from the self-employed and salaried employees.

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