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Greece: Country to a standstill

19. October 2011. | 10:42

Source: Athens News

The general strike is the culmination of this week's strike action taken by numerous labour sectors, including refuse collectors, dock workers and seamen, public transport workers, judges, doctors, customs officials and journalists.

Economic activity in Greece will come to a standstill for 48-hours beginning Wednesday, as the country's two largest umbrella labour unions, public sector ADEDY and private sector GSEE, have called for a general strike to protest against a new bill that deregulates labour relations and imposes further tax hikes and pay and pensions cuts.

The strike is scheduled to coincide with the new bill's vote in parliament, expected to take place in two stages on both days.

Participating in the general strike will be public sector institutions including tax offices, state schools and airports as well as banks and businesses ranging from taxis and clothes shops to bakers.

The general strike is the culmination of this week's strike action taken by numerous labour sectors, including refuse collectors, dock workers and seamen, public transport workers, judges, doctors, customs officials and journalists.

Scheduled protest gatherings

On Wednesday, striking protesters will assemble at Pedion tou Areos, in central Athens, on 11am, while for Thursday there will be a protest gathering at Syntagma Square, outside parliament.

Speaking ahead of the general strike, Kostas Tsikrikas, head of the 500,000-strong ADEDY union, accused Prime Minister George Papandreou's Socialist government of blindly pursuing austerity measures. This "will exacerbate recession, unemployment, while and state revenues will continue to fall, creating a death spiral", Tsikrikas told Reuters, urging lawmakers to reject the package.

If the new law is accepted, Greek public sector workers, paid on average 1,300 euros a month, will see their salaries cut by more than 40 percent based on the new uniform wage scale.

Strikes aplenty

Several unions have announced strike action to coincide with Wednesday's general strike.

The Hellenic Telecommunications (OTE) staff union OME-OTE will hold a 48-hour strike on Wednesday and Thursday. The union has called the strike in reaction to the government's economic policy and the stripping of labour entitlements built up over decades, including collective labour agreements, tenure in the public sector and the slashing of wages and pensions.

Dock workers throughout the country decided to hold a 48-hour strike on Wednesday, October 18.

The Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) on Tuesday extended their 48-hour rolling strike, to until 6am October 19 to October 21, during which no ships of any class will set sail from any Greek port or harbor.

The union federation is demanding that the seamen's pension and social insurance fund (NAT) continue to receive funding from the state budget and that current benefits be preserved as they now stand. It also demands security for Greek seamen's jobs, improvements in training and action against unemployment.

The PNO strike action is likely to cause serious problems in getting supplies to many Greek islands.

Tax inspectors will go on strike too, protesting against planned wage and pension cuts and threatening more disruption to revenue collection efforts that are already falling behind the tough budget targets imposed by international lenders.

Finance ministry officials have called a two-week stoppage from October 17, while tax offices will remain closed on October 17-20 and customs officials will stay away from their desks on October 18-23.

This week's protests are expected to be among the biggest since the crisis began and will add to pressure on Papandreou, who is struggling to quell dissent in his own ranks with one Pasok deputy resigning in protest Monday, and three leading government ministers presenting a co-written "manifesto" attacking trade unionism and demanding faster reforms, viewed by the press as a message that they are in line to bid for the party leadership in the post-Papandreou era.


Apart from some work stoppages in the morning and evening, much of the public transport system in Athens will be operating in order to ferry the public to the trade union protests on Wednesday and Thursday. Taxis and trains will be on strike. Air-traffic controllers have cancelled their 48-hour strike, converting it into a 12-hour work stoppage to end at noon on Wednesday.

Metro (blue and red lines)

Wednesday and Thursday: no service from start of shift until 9am

No service from Doukissis Plakentias to the airport due to Hellenic Railway strike (who own that section of the line)

Ilektrikos (ISAP, green line)

Wednesday: no service from start of shift until 10am and from 6pm to end of shift

Thursday: no service from start of shift until 9am


Wednesday: no service from start of shift until 8am and from 8pm to end of shift

Thursday: no service from start of shift until 8am


Wednesday/Thursday: no service from start of shift until 9am and from 9pm to end of shift


Wednesday/Thursday: no service from start of shift until 9am and from 9pm to end of shift


Wednesday/Thursday: 48-hour strike from 5am Wednesday until 5am Friday.

Air-traffic controllers

Wednesday: 12-hour work stoppage from 00.01 to 12.00 (a 48-hour strike on Wed/Thurs has been cancelled)

Hellenic Rail (OSE)

Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday: 36-hour strikε

Proastiakos (suburban rail)

Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday: 36-hour strike


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17. October - 23. October 2011.