HomeNewsStrikes, protests and clashes over deadly Greek rail crash

    Strikes, protests and clashes over deadly Greek rail crash

    Riot polices take their positions near flames from Molotov cocktails thrown by protestors during a 24-hours general strike in central Athens, on March 16, 2023.

    Clashes broke out in Athens on Thursday, March 16, during a general strike in Greece that was called in response to a rail disaster last month.

    Protesters hurled gasoline bombs at a police cordon near the Parliament. Riot police responded with tear gas and sound grenades, during the brief flare-up of violence that disrupted large, peaceful demonstrations. There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests.

    The strike grounded flights and extensively disrupted services, while large protests were also held in other cities across the country. Clashes between youths and police also erupted in the southern port city of Patras.

    The strike also kept ferries to the Greek islands at port, left public hospitals running with emergency staff, halted public transport services and led to class cancellations at state-run schools.

    Unions have rallied behind railway workers’ associations that have staged rolling walkouts since the head-on train collision in northern Greece on February 28 that left 57 people dead and dozens injured.

    “This government has had four years to fix problems with the rail network, but instead of owning up to that responsibility, they are blaming everyone else,” Popi Tsapanidou, a spokeswoman for main leftist opposition party Syriza, told private Skai television.

    Read more Article reserved for our subscribers Greece train crash: Pressure mounts on PM Mitsotakis’ government

    Cities brought to a standstill

    The main protests were held in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, and in the capital of Athens, where thousands chanted “this crime will not be forgotten” as they reached a police cordon outside a private rail operator.

    Stores and banks lowered their shutters when the protesters filed past as the capital was brought to a standstill. A wide variety of labor associations – from those representing lawyers to delivery drivers – joined the strike.



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    The government, which faces a parliamentary election before the summer, says rail services will restart on March 22 and be restored gradually through April 11, with additional staff to monitor safety and mandatory speed reduction rules along sections of the track.

    Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ center-right government has seen a strong lead in opinion polls reduced in recent weeks over its main rival, Syriza, with the two sides also locked in an ideological debate over how to reform Greece’s antiquated rail network.

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    Mitsotakis has promised to clearer boundaries between privatized services and the authorities overseeing them, seeking assistance from European Union experts in drawing up the changes. His political opponents argue that the poorly managed dismantling of agencies under state control has ultimately compromised rail safety.

    Read more Article reserved for our subscribers After Greece’s train disaster, sorrow gives way to anger

    The World with AP

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