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Greek trade unionists face jail for opposing austerity

Over a dozen Greek trade unionists from the energy union GENOP, including union President Nikos Photopoulos, will be in court on Tuesday (10 January) facing charges that could see them jailed for up to 5 years – and all for opposing one of the country's harshest austerity measures.

Late last November, Nikos and his colleagues blockaded the headquarters of energy company PPC because it was helping to implement a severe new property tax (not related to income – so unemployed home owners pay as much as millionaires) by collecting them through electricty bills. Unions were particularly incensed that people could end up with their power cut off if they were unable to pay the swingeing new tax.

Nikos and the union leadership were promptly arrested, although an initial trial date was abandoned when the state failed to provide any witnesses, and, on the eve of a General Strike, Nikos refused to provide witnesses either, challenging the Government to jail him and his colleagues. Greek unions have called for the governmet to "drop the charges against trade unionists who defend the right of citizens to unimpeded access to a vital public good."

The case should be back in court on Tuesday, but may of course be postponed again – not least because over the weekend, trade unionists from around the world (from over a hundred countries so far) have been emailing the Greek Prime Minister at the rate of one every ninety seconds. You can protest online too.

Please show solidarity with our Greek colleagues who are fighting austerity measures. They didn't cause the crisis, but are being made to pay for it. At least don't let them pay with their freedom.

Owen Tudor

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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