Greek truckers end six-day strike

08:21, August 02, 2010      

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Greek truckers announced on Sunday the end of a six-day strike that paralyzed the country, causing shortages of fuel and other products nationwide at the peak of the summer tourism season.

During a marathon debate held in Athens, representatives of the 30,000 state-licensed trucks and fuel tankers from all over Greece who protested the planned liberalization of the freight truck market, decided to put an end to the crisis for the time being.

"Taking into account the problems caused, we assume our responsibilities towards society,"said a notice released after the general assembly of their labor union.

Strikers promised to go back on the streets transporting goods starting from Monday, calling on the government to lift a civil mobilization order.

Unionists warned that they might resume mobilizations in the near future if the government will not meet pledges to look into the severe problems they will face due to the forthcoming reform.

As military tankers continued to transport non stop fuel to hospitals, ports and other critical sectors since Friday, Transport, Infrastructure and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas repeated that despite strong reactions the plan to open up the currently "closed" freight market in Greece will be implemented.

What the government is willing to discuss with truckers until the draft bill regarding the reform will be voted by the parliament in September, are measures to balance their losses due to the change. Truckers could get tax and pension system advantages.

The government is determined to proceed to the reform in the framework of a package of reforms promoted this year, so that Greece can overcome an acute economic crisis that broke out in late 2009.

Since 1971 the freight market in Greece is "closed", which means that only the 30,000 truckers who were granted licenses by the state are allowed to transport goods.

But with the liberalization of the market, these licenses which were bought for hundreds of thousands of euros will lose the one third of their current value.

The six-day strike dried petrol stations nationwide, created shortages of fresh products in the market, led to closures of factories, left thousands of tourists stranded in Greek islands and caused cancellations of hundreds of thousands of bookings in tourism destinations across Greece.

The truckers strike also attributed to the smaller number of Greeks who left Athens and other major cities for holidays this weekend, according to local authorities.

This year's August exodus as recorded in national roads, airports and ports is approximately 9 percent smaller compared to previous first August weekends.

Source: Xinhua


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