As previously reported, protests, strikes and large-scale gatherings are regularly held throughout Greece and the authorities generally respect the right to strike and to peacefully protest. Since the country hit an economic crisis nine years ago, it is estimated that approximately 50 general strikes have taken place in the country.
On 15th January 2018, the Greek parliament tightened rules on strikes, allegedly to meet the demands of international lenders. Previously, Greek unions could organise strikes with the support of one third of their members. However, the new rules have raised that requirement to 50 percent of members. The Greek Reporter cited that the government’s decision:
“deals a killing blow to workers, pensioners and the unemployed … effectively eliminating even constitutionally safeguarded rights such as the right to strike”.
The day of the parliament’s deliberations, large-scale labour unions went on strike with thousands protesting in Athens. During the previous week, a similar strike was held with reports of clashes as police fired tear gas to disperse protesters trying to enter the parliament building.
In early January 2018, around 140,000 protesters gathered from around the country on the main square in Athens to protest against a potential Greek compromise with Macedonia over the former Yugoslav republic’s official name. Suspected far-right activists tried to attack counter-demonstrators. There was reported use of tear gas and stun grenades by police when far-right protesters threw stones at officers. In December 2017, about 100,000 people had participated in a similar protest in Greece’s second biggest city, Thessaloniki.
Originally published on CIVICUS Monitor