State rail workers in Greece announced 24-hour strike and stopped all national and international train routes. The strike will affect the Friday schedule of trains too.
The employees of the railway company gathered in front of the OSE headquarters on Karolou Street at noon within the strike announced by the Hellenic Federation of rail workers. Employees from around the country came to the rally. They went to the Parliament on a demonstration against privatization, shouting that "OSE belongs to the people." A group of students from non-parliamentary leftist factions supported the strikers in front of the Parliament. The students also had large placards reading slogans opposing the memorandum and supporting the strikers.
The reason for the strike and the demonstration is that the Committee on Economic Affairs launched a parliamentary discussion yesterday on a bill on the state rails recovery, which is expected to be voted by the end of the month. According to the Minister of Transport Dimitris Repas, OSE’s case differs from the case of the Greek state airline Olympic. According to the Minister, the railways will not be privatized, but will be given to private owners 49% of TRAINOSE - a subsidiary of OSE and none of the employees will lose their jobs. According to the bill, the employees of the railway company are allowed to be transferred to other occupations.
The Committee on Economic Affairs received the strikers’ representatives who want the bill to be withdrawn and negotiations to start from scratch. Rail workers are determined to fight for their rights to the end and the secretary of their trade-union Thanassis Levendis refuted the allegations of the ‘gold’ employees of OSE and stated that the average salary of an employee in the railway company is € 1,443. According to the data of the Ministry of Transport, the annual average salary of an employee of the company is € 40,770.
Minister Repas admitted that the state is also responsible for the serious debt of the railway company as it has not funded its expansion thus forcing the company to draw loans under adverse conditions. Poor management of the company is a fact that has led to huge losses in excess of € 10 billion, making the state-owned Greek railways register the biggest losses not only in Greece but also in Europe.