Greek govt threatens to arrest teachers over strike

Greek teachers and students take part in a protest march in central Athens on March 2, 2013 against cutbacks in the public education system due to the government's austerity measures (AFP Photo)

Athens has threatened to arrest high school teachers if they carry out a strike this week, in a move seen as reassurance to Greece’s foreign bailout creditors that the country will not abandon its harsh austerity measures and unpopular reforms.

The announcement marks the third time this year that the Greek
government has invoked emergency laws to force strikers to return
to work.

Greece is due to receive €7.5 billion in loans soon, the latest
tranche of a €240-billion rescue package signed in 2010; Athens
currently has no money to pay pensions and wages. To cope with the
personnel gaps, Athens plans to require two additional hours of
work each week from high school teachers, and plans to transfer
4,000 of them to remote regions of the country.

The government broke a longstanding taboo last month by agreeing to
dismiss some 15,000 public-sector workers by the end of 2014, a key
demand by the EU and International Monetary Fund for Greece to
qualify for further rescue loans, Reuters reported.

According to OLME, the union representing the teachers, about
10,000 part-time teachers could be dismissed once their temporary
contracts expire. The union has called for a 24-hour strike when
university exams start on May 17.

However, under Greek law the government has the right to forcibly
mobilize workers in the event of a civil disorder, natural disaster
or public health risk.

“This is a very authoritarian move from the government because
it has issued civil mobilization orders for secondary education
teachers in the public school system even before they decided to
stage a strike during the university entry exams. Geek law is very
explicit that civil mobilization refers to wars and natural
disasters, not forms of civil protest,”
Panagiotis Sotiris,
sociology lecturer at the University of the Aegean, told RT.

“It’s really interesting to see that one of the legal experts,
who has insisted for many years on the unconstitutionality of these
emergency laws, is no other than the current Minister of Justice in
the Greek government, Mr Antonis Roupakiotis,”
he said.

Education Minister Constantine Arvanitopoulos justified the ban by
arguing that students had a right to take exams without disruption;
teachers will be served a civil mobilization order to go to work on
that day, or risk arrest.

“These threats by the prime minister and his government are
directly against the overwhelming majority of workers and
society,”
Greece’s Syriza party, which opposes the bailout,
said in a statement.

The Greek government has in recent months intervened frequently to
shut down mounting anti-austerity strikes. Earlier this year, it
interrupted week-long walkouts by local sailors that led to food
shortages on Greece’s islands, and strikes

This article originally appeared on : RT