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5 January 2012
On Thursday 24 November 2011, the Greek police arrested Nikos Photopoulos, President of the power workers' union GENOP/DEI, along with more than a dozen of his fellow trade unionists. They were protesting against part of the Greek austerity measures - the cutting off of power to people unable or unwilling to pay a new, swingeing property tax, levied regardless of income or wealth.
The trade unionists will appear in court on Tuesday 10 January - an earlier trial date having been postponed because prosecution witnesses didn't turn up - to face criminal charges that could see them jailed for up to five years.
Greek trade union confederation GSEE, the sister organisation of the TUC, and like us a member of the ETUC and ITUC, is supporting Nikos and his colleagues legally, and it has asked us to send messages of protest to the Greek Government ahead of the trial and encourage others to do so. A statement from the GSEE is on the TUC website.
You can see TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber's letter of protest to the Greek Prime Minister below, along with details of where to send protest messages and where to copy them, to show solidarity with our fellow trade unionists.
Nikos and his colleagues had blockaded the headquarters of Greece's largest power company, PPC, for nearly five days because the company had agreed to Government requests to collect the new tax through electricity bills, and cut off the power if the bills weren't paid.
The Greek authorities' actions against Nikos Photopoulos are as wrong-headed as their austerity measures. Nikos didn't cause this crisis any more than the ordinary Greek people did, and none of them should be asked to pay for it - in Nikos' case, with his freedom. Support the Greek trade union movement! Justice for Nikos!
Dear Prime Minister
On Tuesday next week, my fellow trade unionist Nikos Photopolous, President of GENOP, along with over a dozen of his colleagues, is due to stand trial for protesting at your Government's austerity policies, and, specifically, against the policy of enforcing the new property tax through power bills.
Like the Greek workforce generally, Nikos and his colleagues were not responsible for the crisis that has led to this situation, but like them, he and his colleagues are facing having to pay for it - in their case, with their freedom.
The TUC represents working people in Britain, and our unions have over 6 million members. We have been asked by our sister organisation in Greece - the GSEE - to call on you to drop the charges against trade unionists who defend the right of citizens to unimpeded access to a vital public good that is doubly essential in these trying times of utmost hardship.
I therefore urge you, on behalf of British trade unionists and in solidarity with out Greek brothers and sisters, to abandon the prosecution of our colleagues.
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