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10,000 Steelworkers and Supporters Unite in Solidarity in Athens's Omonia Square

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StopCartel TV broadcasts live from Athens, Greece weeknights @ 6 pm Athens time. The following post is a loose transcript from the July 23, 2012 broadcast -- LIVE and on location from Omonia Square in Athens. 

Photo by Giorgos Panagakis

By greydogg and snake arbusto,  99GetSmart

In the early morning hours on Monday, the Greek rioting police used chemical weapons to disperse a group of striking steelworkers gathered outside the gates of the Hellenic Halyvourgias Steel Mill in Aspropygos. The strikers were there to protest the reopening of the steel mill.

A heroic nine-month strike was interrupted at 5:30 am on Friday, 20 July, in a brutal raid by rioting police, who were working in the interest of a private owner. See: Riot Police Raid Hellenic Halyvourgias Steel Mill:  http://www.opednews.com/articles/Greece-Riot-Police-Raid-H-by-Linda-Ross-120721-184.html

From Athens News:

According to the police, the protesters were trying to close the gates in order to prevent other workers from entering the plant.

Police were allowing entrance through the factory gates to workers who wanted to get back to work.

Traffic congestion was reported on the Athens-Corinth motorway in the early hours of Monday, as two of the three lanes remained closed to traffic.

During their meeting on Saturday, Hellenic Steelworkers decided to continue their strike, with 164 votes in favor and 5 against.

The President of the Hellenic Steel union, Giorgos Sifonios, said during the meeting that "No steel worker will go back to work unless our requests are granted." He also stressed that, "Whoever does will be stigmatized for the rest of their life."

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Eight Greek unions quickly organized a rally in Omonia Square on Monday evening, to show solidarity and support for the striking steelworkers. The turnout for the demonstration was very encouraging, with an estimated 10,000 people in attendance.

During the rally, Giorgos Sifonios, the President of the Hellenic Steelworkers Union, spoke to the people.

Mr. Sifonios referred to the violent procedures the rioting police used to arrest eight strikers. He spoke about the use of force and the chemical weapons that were used against him and the strikers in order to protect Nikos Manesis, a capitalist of the Greek steel cartel. The fact that the police repeatedly protect the interests of private owners against the people has played a very adverse role in this struggle, he said.

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Linda Ross aka greydogg is a blogger at 99GetSmart
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