Greek Labor Day Protests Held over Energy Prices

Large groups of workers joined the Labor Day rallies at Klafthmonos and Syntagma Squares in central Athens on Sunday to protest against soaring energy and food prices.

General Confederation of Greek Workers had called its member organizations on a 24-hour strike and rally.

Civil Servants’ Confederation, the Athens Labour Center, and other regional units of trade unions also organized and joined rallies, which took place across Greece.

Police estimate that some 10,000 people marched in central Athens and gathered outside the Greek parliament over the cost of living that they say is becoming unaffordable.

“It is very tough, and every day, it gets tougher for workers. We will fight it because the working class cannot survive anymore,” said Katerina Dekaristou, a teacher standing outside the Greek parliament.

Greece emerged from a decade-long financial crisis in 2018, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought global travel to a halt two years later and negatively affected the tourism industry on which its economy relies.

Since last September, the Greek government has subsidized power and gas bills to help cushion households and companies at 4 billion euros or 4.22 billion USD.

It also raised the minimum wage to 713 euros a month beginning May 1, the second rise this year. 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis released a statement on Twitter to coincide with Labor Day.

“We welcome Worker’s May 1 with the implementation of a meaningful measure for workers, namely the increase of Greece’s minimum wage by 50 euros a month, which equals an additional 15th wage every year,” Mitsotakis said on Twitter.

However, salary levels remain low, particularly with rising power expenses.

“Unemployment rates are high, the salary is not enough even for half month,” said Christos Katsikas, a demonstrator and a professor in Athens.

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