Hundreds of thousands of protestors have gathered across major cities and communities in Greece to call for answers and justice in the wake of the train disaster that has plunged the country into sorrow and anger.
In Athens alone, tens of thousands marched in the city center on Wednesday to act as a voice for the 57 people who were confirmed dead in the train tragedy at Tempi.
Many of the protestors have expressed beliefs that the disaster was the result of criminal mismanagement and negligence.
The Greek Civil Servants’ Confederation (ADEDY) announced a 24-hour nationwide strike and called for a mass protest rally in Klafthmonos Square, central Athens.
Student organizations are also holding protests. Most of the victims were university students who were returning to Thessaloniki following a long weekend to continue their studies.
Demonstrators march in Athens
With demands for a full inquiry and an end to privatization, protestors marched toward Syntagma Square and the Greek Parliament, where the main body of demonstrators reached the square at around 15:00.
At the same time, the left-wing trade union faction PAME organised a separate rally and march to Parliament over the rail accident at Propylea, attended by labor organizations, federations, unions, students and pupils.
“This crime will not be covered up. Modern-Safe-Cheap Mass Transportation for the people. Against the criminal policy of profit,” is the slogan that dominates the demonstration, which extended from Omonia to Syntagma Square as people were constantly arriving in downtown Athens to protest.
Protestors assemble across Greece
Similar demonstrations were taking place in other Greek cities on Wednesday. There were minor clashes between protestors and police in Thessaloniki, where thousands turned out to demonstrate, and a large protest rally organized by students in Lamia and thousands took part in a rally and march held in Larissa.
Protest rallies were also organized in the city of Ioannina, the port city of Patras, Chania and Heraklion on Crete and the island of Rhodes, among others.
Several protest rallies and strikes have followed last week’s collision of a passenger train with a freight train.
ADEDY said that the strike is being held “to demand – together with all the workers and the people – an end to the policy of privatization, and that the real responsibilities for the murderous crime of the Tempi train crash be attributed to those responsible”.
Sailors, teachers, and bus drivers join the strike for train tragedy
In the same vein, the Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO) announced a 24hr strike that will keep all ships docked nationwide on March 8.
PNO also demanded that light be shed on all aspects of the collision of the two trains and that all relevant measures be taken for safe land and sea transportation.
The Greek Primary Teachers’ Federation (DOE) also announced that they would be joining ADEDY’s nationwide strike on Wednesday and attending the Athens protest rally.
In relation to last week’s tragic train crash, DOE noted that “all teachers, together with parents and students, can demonstrate our power and our determination not to remain silent, and to demand that responsibilities be identified without compromises and cover-ups of the truth.”
Meanwhile, the rail workers union on Monday announced that they are extending their nationwide strike mobilization through Wednesday. All train services carried out by Hellenic Trains, including all Athens suburban railway services, have been suspended since last Wednesday.
Railway workers’ unions said, “we are fighting for the safe running of trains, but also for the truth to shine and for the culprits of the tragic train accident to be found, regardless of how high up they are.”
Buses and trolleys will also remain stationary on Wednesday, as the Athens Urban Transport Organization’s (OASA) workers’ union announced their participation in the strike mobilization.
In its statement, OASA’s union demand safe and modern public transport and measures for the safety of both staff and passengers.
Government considers delaying elections
The fallout from the fatal railway disaster on February 28 has led the embattled government to reconsider the date of the general elections.
According to press reports, the elections will be postponed, as Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservative government tries to control the damage to its popularity caused by the tragedy.
MEGA TV has said that the first round of the election will take place on May 21, with the second vote to take place on July 2.
The first round of the election was initially believed to have been scheduled for April.
Reports on the new election timetable are based on anonymous sources who spoke with the media. No official confirmation of the polling dates has yet been given by the government.