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Watch: Greek civil servants strike to protect right to strike

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The strike has seen disruption to transport, hospitals and state schools
The strike has seen disruption to transport, hospitals and state schools   -   Copyright  Reuters
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Greek civil servants are striking to protect workers' rights in the face of planned labour reforms.

The country's new conservative government under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which took office in July, is planning labour law changes which will affect the ability to strike, collective labour agreements and labour unions.

The 24-hour walkout, the first since the elections, was organised by the Greek Civil Servants Confederation (ADEDY), which represents about half a million workers in the public sector, and has seen ferries remain in ports as seamen's unions went ahead with their strike despite a court ruling it illegal.

Hospitals, state schools and public transport also faced disruption, although Athens' underground was to remain unaffected for most of the day.

ADEDY, which was joined by other labour unions in its action, says the planned changes would hamper the right to strike and diminish workers rights, and is an attempt to control unions.

The changes are equally unpopular with some workers. George Stefanakis, a 35-year-old cook, said: "This is a terrible law, it is undemocratic, it gives everything to the employers – tax breaks, whatever wages they decide.

"They will be able to reduce wages whenever they want according to their plans and profits, leaving our livelihood and the workers needs aside."

The government plan also introduces a fast-track licensing process for major investments – and disciplinary action for civil servants who delay the process. Mitsotakis came to power on pledges to speed up investments, create jobs and spur growth in a country still reeling from a financial crisis.

Of the proposed measures, hotel worker Vangelis Karatzas, 56, said: "Just like the crisis with its [austerity] measures, now there are new growth measures, which cripple the workers."

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