Thursday, September 30, 2010

Protesting truck drivers - Thessaloniki, Greece

Greek haulage associations have decided to continue strike action and blockades despite government moves to pass laws that would allow protesters to be jailed for up to five years and have their licence revoked.

With supermarket shelves emptying and shortages in basic goods appearing across the country Greek truckers this week voted to continue their industrial dispute with Athens over radical changes in transport policy which are aimed at liberalising road haulage regulations along with other sections of the economy.

However, continued resistance to the changes which were voted into law earlier this month has continued unabated across Greece with truckers refusing to haul goods to and from warehouses and ports. In addition there have been violent clashes between drivers and riot police units in Athens and other cities as the ruling PASOK government decided on a tougher line against strikers leading to arrests.

Shots were fired at truck operating in the Malakasas region in Attiki and according to Greek media there have been a number of attacks on Bulgarian vehicles in northern Greece.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Next stop Ireland.

Keep calm, all is well

Like Greece, Ireland was lauded for much of the previous decade for its impressive rates of economic growth which far outstripped laggards such as France and Germany. The Celtic Tiger was held up as a model for development which would allow previously poorer countries to expand their economies and bring wealth and prosperity to everyone.

As someone with Irish roots it was satisfying to see throughout the 90's and 00's Ireland's transformation from a sleepy, closed economy on the fringes of Europe into a business power house. No longer would generation after generation be forced with the choice of either staying in poverty in the land of their birth or emmigate to countries such as England where their presence was at best tolerated, at worst met with prejudice and discrimination. "No blacks, no dogs, no Irish" my mother would say, remembering her own experience as a recently arrived immigrant in the 60's looking for lodgings.

The conflict in Northern Ireland which escalted during the 70's and 80's just added to the list of alleged defects of the Irish. No only were they stupid, unreliable drunkards, but now also potential terrorists, beings devoid of either conscience or scruples.

Now it seems that the party is over in Dublin as much as it is in Athens. The former golden boy of the investment community is now implementing the same kind of austerity measures that have been so successful in Greece. Cuts in public spending, tax hikes and yet massive bailouts of the banking system. Likewise the results have been remarkably similar with high unemployment, growing poverty and severe drops in important economic indices such as consumer confidence and private sector investment.

At the same time the money markets, nervous at the possibility of further weakening of the economy are pushing up the cost of lending so raising the possibility of a Greek style bailout package which will further add to the country's woes if implemented, condemning the Irish to an open ended period of stagnation and undevelopment which could last decades if we judge by the experience of Japan whose economy has virtually flatlined ever since its real estate bubble burst in 1991 .

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Skateboarding, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

The skateboarders were taking part in one of a series of events organised in Thessaloniki to celebrate the European Day Without Cars yesterday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

BBC's Malcolm Brabant being questioned by Greek police after show throwing incident - Thessaloniki, Greece

BBC's Malcolm Brabant being questioned by Greek police after show throwing incident - Thessaloniki, Greece

"The BBC has been accused of failing to support one of its foreign correspondents after his report about a shoe being thrown at the Greek prime minister was temporarily removed from the BBC News website.

Malcolm Brabant, an award-winning BBC correspondent, filmed the shoe-throwing incident involving the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, earlier this month."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Greece's new green economy

Under new green eco friendly policies the Greek economy is expected to cut carbon emissions by up to 90%.

You looking at me?

You looking at me?, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Riot police go into action - Thessaloniki, Greece

It seems that virtually every single demonstration, march or protest is accompanied by at least three platoons of fully armed riot police. Even the conservative press have been talking about Thessaloniki resembling an "city under siege" and "an armed camp". While there are situations when passionate protest can spill over into violence the use of riot police at every single public gathering is hardly compatible with modern democratic instituitions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Greek PM, Giorgos Papandreou - Thessaloniki, Greece

As I was waiting to take pictures of Papandreou outside the Vellidio conference centre I had the strangest feeling that I was being followed. However, it seems that my paranoia had some basis in fact when I realised that every time I moved position or went to chat to other photographers one of the PM's security detail would discretely shift position as well.

It was a little like having my own bodyguard as wherever I went he went as well. I guess they security detail were afraid of a repeat of the shoe throwing scene on Saturday that was captured by a BBC cameraman.

The fact that just one TV crew and a foreign one at that managed to captured the event sent the ruling PASOK party and large sections of the local media into a conspiracy theory frenzy with presenters on both Mega and Skai channels claiming that the whole episode was manufactured by the BBC in order to embarrass the country.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The 75th Thessaloniki Trade Fair welcomes kids too

Gas masks are now available in sizes xxs, xs, s and junior.

Taken outside the Vellidio conference centre in the northern port city of Thessaloniki as Greek PM Giorgos Papandreou was addressing the nation over the state of the economy. Outside the speech was met with boos and jeers by protesting fire fighters and their families.

Doctor who threw shoe at Greek PM wrestled to the ground

Despite massive security measures including the drafting of 4500 extra police officers into the northern greek city of Thessaloniki a lone protester managed to throw a shoe at the Greek prime minsiter, Giorgos Papandreou just moments after leaving the city's international trade fair inaugeration.

The aged man was quickly wrestled to the ground by the PM' security detail and dragged off to a waiting police car shouting that the country was now a "junta"and the government had planned to steal people's homes.

Even during Papandreou's walk about inside the fair other protesters managed to get within feet of the PM and voice their anger over the government's employment policies.

Outside the fair Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city has taken on the air of a city under siege with thousands of uniformed officers on every street corner and hundreds of riot police on high alert ahead of this evening's planned protest marches.

Yesterday evening fellow police officers along with firefigthers also marched in protest over cuts in salaries and planned changes to pension rights, closely followed by riot squad units.

More photographs on Demotix.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Greek riot police face off against protesters in Thessaloniki

With 4000 extra police officers on duty Greece's second city, Thessaloniki looks more and more like a city under siege as the government uses the International Trade Fair as an opportunity for a show of strength in what promises to a brusing battle with trade unions this winter.

More pictures on

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Labour activists continue their protests against the owners of the Banquet restaurant, Thessaloniki

Despite the fact that five activists have been charged and one has been sentenced to six months in prison for libel protests against the owners of the Banquest restaurant in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki continue unabated.

Organisers have stated that the charges and trials are criminalising the right of employees to protest peacefully against illegal employment practices.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

ΟΛΟΙ ΣΤΗ ΔΕΘ - Welcome to the Thessaloniki Interntional Trade Fair

The International Trade Fair held every September in Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki is regarded as the opening of the political season after the usual pause for summer.

Every year the prime minister comes to city to lay out the government's plans for the coming winter. It is usually marked by massive protests astrade unions, political groups and activists gather for a show of strength.

This year's fair promises to be a volatile one as the massive job losses and wage cuts bite harder forcing millions into poverty as the country struggles with the worst economic downturn in 35 years.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Monetarism - the true and terrible story