Greek Union Rallies Disrupt Shipping Routes

Tuesday, May 01, 2001
Public transport in Greece will grind to a halt on Tuesday for the second time in less than a week following calls from Greek union leaders for a strong May Day turnout against government plans for pension changes.

Public transport workers have scheduled stoppages throughout the day. Flights and shipping will also be seriously disrupted.

A mass walkout last Thursday crippled much of the country, despite a last minute decision by the government to freeze its controversial pension reform plans.

The Panhellenic Seamen's Organization said its members would strike from 6 a.m. until midnight, keeping all ships in port.

Two routes between northern Greece and northeast Greece and two between the main port city of Piraeus and Kalamata, at the tip of the Peloponnese peninsula, will also run.

Last Thursday's strike, called by umbrella union group GSEE and its public sector sister ADEDY, drew 150,000 people to a protest in Athens, shut down schools, hospitals and state services and brought transport to a standstill.

GSEE leaders will meet again on May 8 to decide whether to call another 24-hour general strike on May 17, despite a government climbdown on its controversial pension reforms.

The government said on the eve of last week's strike it would shelve its proposals for a uniform retirement age of 65 and new pension calculation rules in the hope of enticing unions to the negotiations table.

But union leaders said that, although the government had frozen its plans, it still maintained proposals to raise the retirement age and reduce pensions.

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