Greek farmers decide to further escalate protests

Representatives of farmers at 37 protest road blocks throughout the country on Tuesday decided that they will further escalate protests against proposed pension reforms and tax measures, after a meeting in central Greece.

They announced plans to extend their blockades of national highways to six hours a day, at times to be decided by the individual protest blocks, though their intention is for road blocks to be coordinated and occur at the same times. They will also seek to join forces with other social groups, participating in other strike action, such as the Feb. 4 general strike.

Regarding the prospects of dialogue with the prime minister, the farmers said the government must first take its proposals for pension reform and taxation off the table, starting dialogue on these issues from scratch, while the talks must also examine the matter of production costs.

A decision to escalate action was also reached by a farmers’ meeting in Sindos, Thessaloniki on Tuesday, where 66 groups of protesting farmers were represented. Participants repeated their refusal to meet the prime minister unless the draft legislation with the tax and pension reforms was first withdrawn. They also refused to meet the leaders of any of the political parties unless they first receive guarantees about the stance the parties’ will adopt.