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Antenna: News in English (PM), 98-02-03

Antenna News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Antenna Radio <> - email:

Last Updated: Tuesday, 03-Feb-98 12:53:28


  • [01] Parliament-Strikes
  • [02] Farmers
  • [03] Karamanlis
  • [04] Kall 1502
  • [05] Basketball
  • [06] "Folk art - wood sculpture"

  • [01] Parliament-Strikes

    More than a dozen Olympic Airways flights were rescheduled on Monday and mass transit was grind to a halt as parliament prepares to vote on new tax legislation bitterly resented by state workers.

    The bill plans to exclude the unions from decision- making on working conditions and pay in debt-ridden enterprises to a parliamentary vote.

    Prime Minister Kostis Simitis has said all the proposed changes are aimed at trimming the bloated public sector as part of a plan to streamline the economy by the turn of the century, allowing Greece to join European Monetary Union.

    Monday was a critical day for the Pasok government and its controversial legislation on collective bargaining.

    The new legislation concerns public transport, the post office, state banks and Olympic Airways.

    Voting on the new bill in parliament, coincided with public sector unions resuming work stoppages again to protest the government legislation.

    Public transport workers walked off the job just as the evening rush hour began, while Olympic Airways, the national carrier, rescheduled 18 domestic and international flights due to a four-hour work stoppage by flight attendants.

    Two nationwide 24-hour public sector strikes in the past two weeks brought the country to a standstill, affecting state banks, post and tax offices and state refineries.

    All last week, mass transit employees staged daily work stoppages during the morning and evening rush hours.

    Prime minister Kostas Simitis has stood firmly by his austerity measures, refusing to bow to any demands by any group.

    Greece's largest union, GSEE, scheduled a demonstration outside parliament coinciding with the beginning of the vote.

    The leader of GSEE said, "the fight has just begun". Adding, "even if the bill passes, it won't pass with public sector workers, who in turn will delcare the bill unconstitutional.

    The GSEE has not said exactly what it will do if parliament approves the legislation, which also aims at reducing union involvement in management decisions at public utilities as part of an effort to speed up privatization plans.

    Trade-unionists fear the government plan will take full control of decision- making on things like bonuses and staff deployment in troubled industries and that this would be the beginning of a more generalised assault on collective bargaining.

    Transports minister Tassos Mandelis said Monday, "Mass transit, like city buses and trains, the public sector companies need to be turned around". Adding, "The government asks for an open dialogue to close issues which have been pending".

    The controversial vote over the proposed legislation raised differing opinions among MPs from both Pasok and New Democracy, the main opposition party. Eight to ten Pasok MPs have already expressed their disagreement over the government plan.

    New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis insisted on his party's proposal which believes the bill doesn't go far enough, saying they will vote against the bill. Commenting on the bill he said, "We should bring the bill forward for collective discussion.

    The country needs even more radical measures". Former New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert is expected to vote against the bill, choosing to back the unions. While party honorary president Konstantinos Mitsotakis as well as MPs Stefanos Manos, Giorgos Souflias and Dora Bakoyianni are favoring the vote, believing that New Democracy shouldn't follow a blind opposition policy.

    The Communist Party, the Left Coalition and the Democratic Movement all asked, like New Democracy for a nominal vote in parliament Monday.

    Premier Simitis's austerity measures aim to slash the country's deficit by the end of 1998 to a target of 2.5 percent of gross domestic product, from 4.2 percent at the end of 1997. This will allow Greece to join EMU on Jan. 1, 2001.

    Either way, the new bill has raised issues of unity within both Pasok and the main opposition party.

    [02] Farmers

    State workers weren't the only ones on strike. Farmers once again are protesting the government's new tax legislation.

    They are demanding lower fuel prices for agricultural vehicles, higher crop subsidies from the government and lower production costs.

    Threatening to give a repeat performance of protests staged last winter, when they blocked the country's main north-south highway for two months, stranding hundreds of trucks and severely disrupting Greece's exports, they began lining the highways again.

    There were long convoys of tractors on the national highways in Thessaly and northern Greece stationed at key intersections, threatening to paralize

    Greece's road network again if conditions are not met by the government.

    Farmers could be seen rallying in the Peloponese Monday, protesting the government's new tax legislation.

    And thousand of tractors made a long convoy lining both sides of the highway in the regions of Karditsa and Larissa in central Greece, stating that if the government doesn't listen to their problems, they will begin road blocks.

    In Thessaloniki, farmers from two trade unions closed the ministry of Macedonia-Thrace in a symbolic form of protest.

    And in Egio, in the Peloponese, farmers rallied in the city's central square. A delegation of them met with the governor of western Greece giving him notice of their claims.

    [03] Karamanlis

    New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis was in Lakonia a located in the southern Peloponese over the week-end. During his tour he spoke with residents of the region, listening to their problems.

    Karamanlis accused the Pasok government of not caring about people's problems.

    During his stay in the village of NiAta, Karamanlis called on the government to begin a dialogue with the people.

    Referring to current trade unionists' protest against the government's new tax bill and legislation on collective bargaining Karamanlis said, "The methods one chooses to press a government to satisfy their claims, must think of what the consequences might be against citizens". Adding, "but on the other hand, the government should also speak with people to find a solution to their problems. There are many problems not only here, but all over the country".

    In the village of Geraki, Karamanlis spoke with residents about his party's policy on social issues. He said, "We have one goal: to win the elections, not for reasons of power, but to give an efficient government to the country. A government that will change Greece's downward course, giving back to citizens their national and social dignity which is traumatized today".

    Entering Neapoli, residents welcomed the New Democracy leader with the ringing of church bells, declaring him an honorary citizen.

    [04] Kall 1502

    A new system brought about by the interior minister saving people who need official documents from waiting in line to get them has received a great response.

    The new system which starts this month, enables people to order a copy of their birth certificate by simply dialing a four digit number.

    Application fees will be added to the customer's phone bill, and the certificates will arrive by post. or be given to customers at the town hall.

    Customer service for official documents is open five days a week from the hours of 8 until 2pm everyday.

    Three months after the system is implemented, people will also be able to obtain an array of other documents by phone too, from military records, to tax returns, to legal papers, to marriage and death certificates. diplomas and monetary awards.

    [05] Basketball

    It was a fun filled evening, full of festivities for Aris and their fans as they secured the Greek cup on Sunday.

    Thessaloniki's basketball team played it tough in the finals against Aek in Thessaloniki. Aris players swooped in scoring a close 71-68 over their rivals in a hot game sure to have made their fans delirious.

    And in the spirit of sportsmanship, Aris players dedicated their victory to their fans who gave them strong support throughout the finals.

    Of the win, player Dinos Angelidis said, "This victory deserves to be dedicated to our players and our fans".

    Third position in the finals was Olympiakos who creamed Panathianikos 80- 56.

    [06] "Folk art - wood sculpture"

    "Folk art - wood sculpture" is the title of an exhibition of model ships currently running at the Halls of Art in central Athens.

    Visitors can expect to see ships of ages gone by - even the ancient ship the Argo and an ancient Athenian trireme.

    There are also miniature replicas of 19th-century craft.

    Yiannis Malanos, an old captain from the island of Samos, has been building these boats since he was a boy. This exhibition - his first - includes 20 ships.

    Viewers' imaginations get a little help in picturing exactly what it must have been like on Julius Caesar's private yacht, and many other ships.

    Ioannis Chatzifotis, Athens orthodox archdiocese spokesman, was the main speaker at a recent seminar during the exhibition. He tells Antenna, "The sea is very important to Greece, which has always been mainly a nation of sailors. Of course, that has led to another profession", he adds, "folk art".

    (c) ANT1 Radio 1998

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