Greek riot police storm Acropolis

Riot police on Thursday stormed the Acropolis, Greece`s best-known monument, to break up a blockade by protesting culture ministry staff.

Last Updated: Oct 14, 2010, 13:40 PM IST

Athens: Riot police on Thursday stormed the Acropolis, Greece`s best-known monument, to break up a blockade by protesting culture ministry staff.

The police broke into the monument perimeter through a side entrance and pursued dozens of protesters, who grabbed onto the fence to prevent their removal from the site in central Athens, television footage showed.

Police subsequently used tear gas to disperse media thronging the front entrance in order to surround the protesters.

The union representing temporary culture ministry staff began the blockade on Tuesday to protest the imminent dismissal of 320 employees whose contracts expire at the end of the month

They also want the state to settle unpaid salaries which they say are worth five million euros (seven million dollars) over two years.

The protesters had intended to blockade the Acropolis until October 31.

The chairman of temporary culture ministry staff, Nikos Hasomeris, had earlier warned the authorities not to attempt to break the blockade by force.
"All our colleagues stand beside us, so the monument will not operate today no matter what happens," he told Mega television.

Short-term ministry staff with renewable contracts, who say they are at the mercy of layoffs, often shut down the Acropolis to demand job security.

Greece is in the grip of an unprecedented debt crisis and only narrowly avoided national bankruptcy a few months ago.
To reduce costs, the Socialist government has imposed severe cutbacks on state spending and a hiring freeze on public sector jobs.

Bureau Report