ATHENS – Hundreds of firefighters in uniform took to the streets of Athens Wednesday, saying roughly one-third of their jobs are at risk due to hiring restrictions placed on the public sector by Greece’s international bailout conditions.
About 1,000 firefighters, some in full rescue gear, chanted “real jobs now” and marched past parliament. Dozens of demonstrators forced their way into a shuttered government building, breaking a front window.
Many firefighters in Greece are hired on short-term contracts, and protest organizers said 4,000 of Greece’s 12,000 firefighters were on five-year contracts expiring Thursday, with scant hope of workers being rehired due to bailout-related restrictions on public sector hiring.
The firefighters are pressing to be included on a list of exemptions from the hiring freeze that exist for some other security forces.
“The government is not abiding by its own commitments,” protester Zoi Karakehayia told press. “The government says there is not enough money in the state budget.”
Greece has been relying on billions of euros in rescue loans in three successive bailouts by other eurozone countries since 2010. Its continued problems in meeting all bailout conditions have frequently seen its future in Europe’s joint currency brought into question.