Sea­men pose new crash test for gov’t

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

next to moored ships at Pi­raeus Port on Satur­day, dur­ing a strike by sea­men protest­ing planned changes to their sec­tor. Protest­ing farm­ers main­tained a strong but peace­ful pres­ence over the week­end at key road junc­tions while strik­ing sea­men met to de­cide whether to con­tinue with rolling 48hour walk­outs.

Farm­ers, who have been press­ing for tax breaks and other con­ces­sions de­spite the government’s in­sis­tence that the bud­get has no scope for ex­emp­tions, kept their trac­tors parked near crit­i­cal junc­tions in Thes­saly and Cen­tral Mace­do­nia but stopped short of block­ing roads. The largest gath­er­ing was at the Nikaia junc­tion on the Athens-Thes­sa­loniki na­tional high­way, where more than 1,200 trac­tors re­mained parked.

Government sources ex­pressed con­cerns about the per­sis­tence of the farm­ers, who have been backed by the Com­mu­nist Party (KKE) and by the main left­ist op­po­si­tion SYRIZA, but the gen­eral im­pres­sion was that the strike front would not grow to the ex­tent that it desta­bi­lizes the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Mean­while strike ac­tion by sea­men ap­peared to be gath­er­ing mo­men­tum though it re­mained un­clear whether union­ists would launch a third 48-hour strike in a row this morn­ing. KKE leader Aleka Pa­pariga ex­pressed sol­i­dar­ity with the sea­men, who ob­ject to government plans to over­haul coastal ship­ping reg­u­la­tions for fear of job cuts. Not­ing that thou­sands of dock­work­ers face re­dun­dancy, Pa­pariga ac­cused the government of only be­ing in­ter­ested in “ships that bring rev­enue to large ho­tel chains.”

Government sources ex­pressed the hope that the sea­men’s ac­tion would fail to gather steam but did not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of au­thor­i­ties forc­ing staff back to work, as they did last month with strik­ing metro em­ploy­ees, if rolling walk­outs con­tinue in­def­i­nitely.

There are fears that work­ers in other sec­tors will stage their own in­dus­trial ac­tion in the count­down to a gen­eral strike called by the two main la­bor unions for Fe­bru­ary 20.

A man runs

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