While the government is crowing that social unrest has mostly stopped and that Greeks have begrudgingly submitted to more austerity measures, fruit and vegetable sellers at the open air markets known as laiki said they would strike on May 15 and hold a protest rally in Syntagma Square in front of Parliament.
They said they are upset with government plans to allow more competition by easier entry into their business and are especially anxious that one of the proposals is to eliminate lifetime licenses and replace them with requirements they be renewed every three years. The markets are a popular point for Greeks to buy fresh goods and move between neighborhoods daily.
The union representing street vendors argued that the three-year limit blocks any investment for developing their businesses as it is too short a time to ensure that they see any returns and expressed concerns that the liberalization of the profession will open the way for large companies to take over stalls, leading to an oligopoly in the sector.
Street vendors represent one of dozens of professional sectors that remain to be liberalized in line with demands from international creditors. Until recently the vendors didn’t give receipts and were accused of being among the many tax cheats in Greece. Some still don’t give receipts despite a law requiring them to do so and which lets customers refuse to pay without one.
Greek unions representing public workers were also on strike on May 14 to protest the issuance of a civil mobilization order by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras prohibiting teachers from striking on May 17 and refusing to work as monitors at the university entrance exams known as the Panhellenics. The country’s union representing private workers said it would also strike on May 15 to support the action.