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Strikes are blocking Greek ports again

19 March 2012 / 19:03:12  GRReporter
3238 reads

Victoria Mindova


Ports in Greece are closed again after the Pan-Hellenic Maritime Federation announced a 48-hour strike. It is blocking the movement of shipping transport in the country in protest against the change in labour relations and pension rights. The Federation requires the re-enforcement of collective labour agreements, keeping the cabotage and wage increases. Strikers are occupying the buildings of the pension fund of the navy, the employment agency and health insurance fund of the navy.

On Monday morning, members of the trade union prevented the departure of the Blue Star ferry from the port of Piraeus to the island of Paros. Sailors threatened that Greek ports will remain blocked until the government meets their requirements, which are in direct contravention of Greece’s obligations under the Memorandum for financial support.

"These are 48-hour and repetitive strikes and they will continue until the desired result is achieved," the trade union federation said exclusively for GRReporter. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Development, Competitiveness and Shipping denounced the unions’ decision to block the ports in the country. "We respect the hard work of employees in the navy and we are open for dialogue with the federation of Greek sailors, but within our capabilities today. Any attack against agriculture, tourism and economy of the islands is an attack against the unemployed, pensioners and the national economy, which we are fighting to save today." This is the official statement of the Ministry, which is determined not to give way to protesters’ demands.
At present, the active strike actions of sailors have most negatively affected agriculture and trade between island and mainland Greece. According to unofficial information, trade by sea with the islands reaches about six tons of food a day and the lack of transportation may prove fatal for many small farmers in remote parts of the country.

The Greek trade union, in turn, urged sailors to show common sense and not to continue the strike actions after the first 48-hour strike for this year. They offered to find a middle way, while the government and maritime union continue the negotiations and recover at least some of the journeys by the middle of the week. "Despite the just demands, we call the Pan-Hellenic Maritime Federation to support the efforts to ensure the transport of Greek agricultural products inside the country and to international markets", said traders and continued, "Let them allow the ships make their regular journeys to ship perishable products from Tuesday evening."

The association of international freight forwarders and logistics companies in Greece have a firm position on the strike of maritime employees and think that protests would have much more dramatic consequences for the local economy than expected. They are adamant that they will pose serious problems to the imports of products from central and northern Europe, which will inevitably deprive consumers of important goods, increase prices and inflict serious financial damage on companies in the industry. The association of freight forwarders ended their message with a call, "Logic should finally prevail rather than one sector dragging another one along."

Tags: MarketsSocietyStrikesProtestsPan-Hellenic Maritime FederationPiraeus
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