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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Riot police have clashed with protesting steel workers outside a factory near Athens, in a labor dispute that has triggered a political spat in the crisis-hit country.

Police said they used pepper spray and scuffled with protesters Monday, when about 150 demonstrators challenged a cordon west of the capital. No arrests were reported.

On Friday, police ended a strike at the private steel plant that had lasted nearly nine months, clashing with protesters on a picket line, after a court declared the strike illegal.

Left wing opposition parties are backing the steelworkers' demands to limit layoffs at the factory and not introduce part-time contracts, and have accused the new conservative-led government of acting like "gangsters."

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