Greece: ‘Beneath the Acropolis we go on strike’

Approximately 100 ministry contractual employees barricaded themselves inside the Acropolis overnight on Wednesday, 13 October, demanding two years of back pay and permanent contracts. They padlocked the entrance gates and refused to allow in tourists.

Guardians of the Acropolis site (Athens, Greece) work on behalf of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism either as civil servants (with permanent contracts) or as contractual employees (with temporary contracts).

More than 400 contract-workers of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism have been working unpaid for up to 22 months. These are workers who have up to 20 years of service. The Greek government shows them the door of unemployment. Most of them will be laid off after years of flexible and underpaid work.

The following morning, Thursday, 14 October, the director of the First Inspectorate of Prehistoric Classical Antiquities, filed a lawsuit, thus giving an excuse to police squads to storm the site. Approximately 80 employees refused to open the gate against police squads, even when cops entered from a side door tear-gassing and beating with fury protesters, passers-by, even (so-called) journalists. There were people injured (unconfirmed number) and at least one witnessed arrest.

Workers remained in the archaeological site, which was shut down throughout the day. The same afternoon, under heavy rain, a solidarity gathering had been called in the presence of police and security force. The assemblers were beaten by police. Two of the slogans were ‘Beneath the Acropolis we go on strike; we think of the slaves rather than Phidias,’ and ‘Solidarity is peoples’ weapon – War against the bosses’ war.’

Mass media mocked the strikers, with hysterical scaremongering for ‘tourists who have traveled from far-flung countries, and will not see the Parthenon’ and comments such as ‘authorities often are sensitive [!] to protests at the emblematic ancient site, particularly as the country largely relies on tourism for revenue’… With the most famous recipe, that of brainwashing, international and Greek media prepare public opinion to accept the brutal repression at all levels.

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