Greeks rally over train crash, labour unions gear for more walkouts
ATHENS (Reuters) – Thousands of people rallied in central Athens on Sunday to protest over the country’s deadliest train disaster that killed 57 people on Feb. 28, as Greece’s largest labour unions geared up for a nationwide strike.
The head-on collision of a passenger train with a freight train nearly two weeks ago has stirred public anger and daily protests against the conservative government and a political system that has repeatedly ignored calls by railway unions to improve safety systems.
More than 10,000 supporters of the Communist PAME group, public sector workers, pensioners and university students rallied outside parliament in central Athens on Sunday. Some of them chanted “Murderers!” and “We will not forget”.
Most of the 350 people aboard the passenger train were university students heading north to Thessaloniki from Athens, after a long holiday weekend.
Greece’s largest labour unions GSEE and ADEDY, jointly representing more than two million workers, will stage a nationwide strike on March 16, to protest over the train crash.
Last week, tens of thousands rallied in Athens and other cities across Greece in the largest street demonstrations the government has faced since being elected in 2019.
Rail workers, who have staged rolling 24-hour strikes, say years of neglect, underinvestment and understaffing – a legacy of Greece’s decade-long debt crisis – are to blame.
Before the crash, the conservative government, whose term ends in July, was planning to call elections in the coming weeks. Last week, it promised to fix the ailing rail system and support the families’ victims.
(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Alkis Konstantinidis; Editing by Sharon Singleton)