The Greek Supreme Court, in a case brought by the unions, has ordered the government to reopen the Greek state broadcaster ERT, while seeming to condone plans to replace it with a smaller body. Following months of strikes by station workers over plans for reorganisation Prime Minister Antonis Samaras shut down ERT mid-broadcast on 11 April claiming that it suffered from chronic mismanagement and waste.
The broadcaster ran three domestic TV channels, four national radio stations, regional radio stations and an external service, and 2,700 jobs would have been lost with existing staff having to apply for posts in a slimmed-down organisation.
The court decision followed mass protests across the country and a general strike which affected many public services such as schools and hospitals. Much of the media was also involved, and there were stoppages of all forms of public transport including the metro and a two-hour walk-out by air traffic controllers. After the shutdown ERT journalists continued shortwave radio transmissions and live broadcasts over the internet and there were sit-ins at ERT offices in Athens and Thessaloniki.
Workers celebrated outside their offices in Athens after the court decision was announced. They are aware that many consider the organisation to be corrupt and bloated but say that this has been the fault of successive governments.
Unions also fear that government success would open the door for the thousands of sackings in the public sector demanded by the EU and the IMF. A recent study by the University of Thessaloniki indicates that 120,000 professionals such as doctors, engineers and scientists have left Greece since the onset of the economic crisis in 2010. ■