Strikes disrupt transport and government services in Greece

May 16th, 2008 - 6:33 am ICT by admin  

Athens, May 16 (DPA) Strikes by union groups upset by Greek government privatisation plans and pension reforms disrupted air transport, bank and state services Thursday. Ships remain anchored at the ports of Pireaus near Athens and in the northern port city of Thessaloniki and state carrier Olympic Airlines cancelled 40 flights and rescheduled another 24.

Greek private air company Aegean also cancelled 28 flights and changed departure times for another 52 as air traffic controllers held a four-hour walkout.

The strike by dock workers who fear the privatization of the nation’s ports will lead to job cuts has also been backed by workers at post offices, banks, the Hydro Company, Athens Water Company, ambulance and hospital employees, where workers also held work stoppages.

Thousands of people held a protest march through the Greek capital, while some 2,000 students staged a separate demonstration against recent reforms in state universities.

Riot police fired tear gas at a group of strikers in Athens as they tried to storm the headquarters of the National Bank of Greece. No injuries or arrests were reported.

Greece has been hit by back-to-back strikes over the past few months, putting the country in an economic crisis.

Unions are angry over recent privatisation deals, including the deal reached by the state telecommunications company OTE with Germany’s Deutsche Telekom as well as pension reforms and high consumer prices.

Work stoppages by the country’s public power corporation have caused energy cuts while dockers’ refusal to work overtime has led to a pile up of containers in the ports of Pireaus and Thessaloniki.

Greeks had been forced to queue in huge lines outside petrol stations after fuel tanker drivers held a ten-day protest, disrupting transport and goods supplies across Greece.

The workers decided to return to work late Wednesday.

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