Greek Seamen End Strike, Return to Work

ΑΠΕΡΓΙΑ ΝΑΥΤΕΡΓΑΤΩΝ - ΛΙΜΑΝΙ ΠΕΙΡΑΙΑReluctantly obeying a civil mobilization order issued by the government, striking Greek seamen went back to work on Feb. 6 rather than face the prospect of being jailed and even losing their jobs.

For the second time in two weeks – as he did with striking Metro workers – Prime Minister Antonis Samaras issued the order which had been used only 10 times since the fall of the ruling military junta in 1974.

Samaras said Greek islands were suffering shortages of supplies because the strikers had kept ships in port for six days. They were protesting because they haven’t been paid for six months during the country’s crushing economic crisis and feared coming reforms would lead to the loss of many of their jobs.

The government is late in making payments to some sectors, although Members of Parliament, and Parliament workers who have been exempted from more pay cuts, are being paid promptly.

The sea workers returned to their jobs despite a vote by their unions to defy the order and extend the strike. While scheduled services to islands across the country resumed, riot police forces were heavily present at the port of Piraeus in order to keep strikers away from boats taking on passengers and cargo.

The Panhellenic Seamen’s Union, PNO, slammed the government’s decision to issue a civil mobilization order and spoke of “unprecedented violence and terrorism” with regards to the presence of police at the Piraeus port.

Speaking to Antenna TV, Merchant Marine Minister Costis Mousouroulis said he was willing to begin talks with the union over its grievances. PNO head Antonis Dalakogiorgos, speaking to SKAI TV, said there could be another strike when the new Merchant Marine Ministry draft law reaches Parliament.