Greek workers join walkout over deadly train crash, call protests

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Thousands of Greek workers walked off the job to protest over the recent train disaster that killed 57 people, with mass demonstrations expected to culminate outside parliament in Athens at midday.

Students and teacher groups have said they will take part in Wednesday’s rallies. They want authorities to thoroughly investigate the causes of the accident, the country’s deadliest train crash.

“It’s not the time to fall silent, it’s time to speak up and fight,” a teachers’ union said in a statement.

The February 28 crash has stirred public outrage over the crumbling state of the Greek rail network, and striking workers say years of neglect, underinvestment and understaffing – a legacy of Greece’s decade-long debt crisis – are to blame.

Many of the estimated 350 people on board an intercity passenger train that collided head-on with a freight train while travelling on the same track were university students heading to the northern city of Thessaloniki from Athens after a long public holiday weekend.

The disaster has sparked protests across Greece with more than 10,000 people rallying in Athens on Sunday, releasing hundreds of black balloons into the sky.

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Rail workers have staged rolling, 24-hour strikes since Thursday, bringing the network to a halt. They say their demands for the improvement of safety protocols have gone unheard for years.

ADEDY, the umbrella union representing hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, has also called for a 24-hour walkout.

“We will impose safe railways so that no one will ever experience the tragic accident at Tempi ever again,” the main railway workers’ union said in a statement.

“We have an obligation towards our fellow humans and our colleagues who were lost in the tragic accident.”

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