Strike on Pireaus Port at crucial times - The Best from Greece

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Posted on: 05/Nov/2009

Workers at Piraeus port decided yesterday to extend their strike for a further 48 hours in protest against China’s Cosco taking over the management of a cargo terminal, at a crucial time of year for businesses gearing up for the busy Christmas period.

Workers who fear the deal will result in job cuts decided to keep the port shut until the end of the week and refuse to work overtime over the weekend before deciding on their next step.

Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said talks will continue with workers in a bid to bring an end to the dispute.

Some press reports have said the government is preparing to toughen its stance and may even be considering civil mobilization, which forces workers back to work with the help of a military law. This, however, has been formally dismissed by officials.

In a bid to strengthen its position at the negotiating table the government yesterday appointed former Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis as chairman and chief executive officer of Piraeus Port Authority (OLP). Anomeritis is considered to have the experience to handle the dispute in view of a similiar strike held in the period 2002-03 during his term as minister.

Cosco had been awarded the management of the cargo terminal by the previous conservative government but a pre-election promise to workers by PASOK that the deal would be re-examined if it came to power has sparked the protest action.

OLP’s 1,500 employees are demanding the annulment of the contract, arguing that Cosco plans to reduce the number of jobs by two-thirds as of June next year.

Business groups called on the government to find a solution to the dispute as enterprises stock up for the busy Christmas period.

The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) and other trade groups have proposed that the government freeze implementation of the agreement with Cosco for two months to allow the port to operate until the start of next year.



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