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Protests Seek to Hit Collection of Property Tax

Greek protesters tried to disrupt collection of an unpopular new property tax on Thursday and transport workers went on strike in a growing wave of protests against harsh new austerity measures.
Unionists of GENOP, which represents workers at the Public Power Corporation (PPC), continued their occupation of the company’s billing department to stop it from sending bills containing the emergency property tax to homeowners. Environment and Energy Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou on Wednesday appealed to GENOP to end its protest and said that he would order a prosecutor to intervene if the sit-in continues. The property tax, which will see homeowners charged between 0.5 and 20 euros per square meter, was designed to raise some 2 billion euros by the end of the year.
The action at power company PPC underlines the challenge faced by the government, which has included the property tax in electricity bills to ensure it will be paid in a country where tax evasion is endemic.
PPC’s management said the bills would be printed anyway, in another venue and at a greater cost but protesters said they would continue their protest.
“We came to stay … we are here to give a fight” said Nikos Fotopoulos, president of PPC’s union GENOP-DEH, on Skai TV.
With the socialist government of Prime Minister George Papandreou trying to push new cuts through parliament to meet demands from international lenders, opposition has strengthened ahead of a planned general strike on Oct. 19 which is expected to shut down much of the country.

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