Under pressure from its creditors to cut public employment, the Greek government said Tuesday that it was closing down its state-run television and radio broadcaster, idling 2,900 people — less than 1 percent of the public work force — and outraging the country’s powerful labor unions.
TV screens went dark in the evening, but journalists from the broadcaster remained defiant, continuing to stream live news programming throughout the night as protesters gathered in front of ERT’s Athens headquarters.
ERT employees, who were among the 3,000 people gathered outside the broadcaster’s headquarters north of Athens on Tuesday night, vowed to stage a sit-in until the government rescinded the order, while members of Greece’s fragile governing coalition said that they, too, would resist the move.
The government has said it wil reopen ERT with a smaller staff, claiming the broadcaster was bloated and inefficient.
But the decision has caused a major political row in Athens. The junior partners in the Greek coalition are refusing to support the measure, while opposition leader Alexis Tsipras launched a stinging attack on the move.