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Greek taxi drivers suspend nationwide strike

(Xinhua)

11:02, August 06, 2011

Greek taxi drivers suspended on Friday a 19-day nationwide strike over the deregulation of the sector, which had hit hard the transport and tourism industry.

According to the announcement of taxi driver union issued following a general assembly of their federation in Athens, they would suspend their mobilization starting from Friday in a "good will gesture."

The unions would wait and make decisions on their next moves in early September, when Greek Transport Minister Yiannis Ragoussis will submit to parliament a bill that introduces a radical overhaul of the market.

For the first time in over five decades Greek authorities proceed to the liberalization of the sector in the context of a wider structural reform strategy introduced last year to solve the acute debt crisis.

Under the government's plan which aims to boost competitiveness in the benefit of customers, professionals who are interested in entering the market will receive taxi licenses at a low fee, starting from this summer.

The 40,000 taxi drivers across Greece who have paid tens of thousands of euros for such licenses, protest the plan, arguing that their investment evaporate overnight in this way.

Greek government officials called on the taxi drivers for further dialogue over the reform in late August, pledging that no new license would be issued until then.

According to the latest data, the authorities have received approximately 4,600 applications for new licenses since early July when the ministry announced the measure.

Since July 18 taxi drivers had launched a nationwide strike, blocking national highways, paralyzing airports and ports.

The mobilization affected hundreds of thousands local travelers and foreign tourists at a time when Greece has pinned high hopes on the revenue of the local tourism industry this year to boost the ailing national economy.

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