Greece orders striking truckers to go back to work

The Greek government ordered striking truck drivers to go back to work, the third day of their nationwide stoppage, as fuel shortages started to hurt the country.

Greece orders striking truckers to go back to work


The Greek government ordered striking truck drivers to go back to work on Wednesday, the third day of their nationwide stoppage, as fuel shortages started to hurt the country.

"(The strike) has caused serious disruption of public and economic life and endangers public health with a lack of sufficient supply of fuel, food and medicine," government spokesman George Petalotis said in a statement.

Thousands of striking truck drivers have been lining the highways since Monday to protest against plans to open the sector to competition, a key reform in a multi-billion euro EU/IMF package aimed at pulling Greece out of a debt crisis.

The truck drivers now have 24 hours to return to work or face arrest and the risk of losing their licences.

Union members said they would ignore the order. "We will not obey. They can come and get our trucks if they want," said unionist Spyros Kapetanios.

A team of EU, IMF and ECB officials is visiting Athens to monitor progress in implementing the bailout plan and decide whether to release a 9 billion euro tranche of aid in September.

The EU/IMF plan requires Greece to open up road freight to increased competition by September and to adopt legislation to liberalise other closed professions such as lawyers and architects by June 2011.

The socialist government's first attempt to open up closed professions -- lifting restrictions on cruise ship crews -- was met with heated protests last month that affected tourism, a key pillar of the 240 billion euro economy.

Road freight is one of the most closed professions in Greece and no new licences have been issued for decades. Some economists say opening up the sector could lower business costs and boost GDP by 1 percentage point per year.

The truckers' strike has affected fuel supplies, and worried holiday-makers have been queueing to fill their tanks.

The economic crisis has pushed Greece into its first recession in 16 years, lifting unemployment to a 10-year high.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Temmuz 2010, 13:28
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