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Shipping workers strike threatens to paralyze Greece before Easter

04 April 2012 / 20:04:31  GRReporter
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The Holy Week is expected to be full of emotions for residents and visitors of Greece after the union of shipping workers announced that it will hold a new 48-hour strike just five days before Easter. The two demands they placed in order to cancel the strike are the abolition of the cabotage for tourist ferries in Greece and the consolidation of the insurance fund for sailors. Neither of them could be adopted because they are part of the reform of the Greek economy, which must become more competitive under the free market principles. Union leaders in maritime transport do not care about it and they decided that the period before Easter is the most appropriate time to once again press the government in the fight for supremacy.

The news of the strike met serious resentment from the Ministry of Development, Competitiveness and Shipping as well as from the island communities, tourism enterprises and producers. The district governor of the south Aegean Yiannis Maharidis accused the trade union of making the islanders hostages in order to achieve its interests. He defined the new strike as an extreme and unfair means for the sole purpose of imposing the interests of a group of workers. Maharidis emphasized that producers and tourism entrepreneurs have made titanic efforts to limit the negative effect of the Greek crisis on German customers, but such initiatives could ruin their efforts. The same is the opinion of the chairman of the chamber of entrepreneurs from the Cycladic islands Yiannis Roussos, who defined the strike of shipping workers as "a deadly blow to the bleeding economy of our islands." Farmers from Crete fear that due to the blocked shipping around the holidays, their goods will rot at the ports and this will financially ruin hundreds of small producers.

Greek tourist enterprises have suffered particularly heavy losses in the last two years, and Easter celebrations are an important step for them, as they will show how the summer season of the year will develop. "Bookings this year have decreased by 50% compared to the same period last year and ten large hotels with a total of 5,000 beds will remain closed. As if that is not enough, now they have announced a strike to finish us off," said the vice-president of the Association of Hoteliers in Corfu, Kyriakos Merianos.

Bookings for ferry tickets are starting to be cancelled one after another, and now almost 80% of purchased tickets for a trip to various Greek islands have been returned. The president of the Pan-Hellenic Hotelier Federation Yiannis Retsos is adamant that the government should take firm decisions on how to solve such crises before Greece loses its foreign visitors. "We need to protect our tourism. It is the last hope for our country. Such actions as blocking passenger water transport in Greece deprive us of any possibility to change the bad climate that has been created due to the deepening financial problems of the country," said Retsos. If logic does not prevail, there will be a disaster, added the union of Greek tourist offices in the same spirit.


Tags: EconomyStrikesMarketsFerry
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