On Friday, employees at the container terminal at the port of Piraeus run by Chinese shipping giant COSCO, went on strike. On Saturday, the company promised it will meet some of their demands and will negotiate the rest, so the strike ended.
Cosco owns more than 130 vessels and calls on over a thousand ports worldwide. It ranks sixth in number of container ships and ninth in aggregate container volume in the world. Cosco is the largest dry bulk carrier in China and one of the largest dry bulk shipping operators worldwide.
George Georgakopoulos, head of the union of Greek port employees (OMYLE), had reported that the strike announced by 50 dock workers would last until Monday.
According to Georgakopoulos, the strikers demanded payment of past wages and better labour conditions. He noted that Cosco staffs were not allowed to unionize and that employee rules and regulations on the dock were unclear.
“Wage agreements are kept private, but we’ve been told of 35-euro wages, far below what container crane operators should earn,” he said adding that “It’s also unclear what the work schedule is, people are called in via cellphone messages.” Now Cosco will re-negotiate with the employees.
In 2008, when Greece plunged into the deep debt crisis, the Chinese company signed a 35-year concession to expand the two main container terminals at Piraeus Port. Cosco is aiming to invest 230 million dollars in expansion works by 2020.
Cosco’s operation in Piraeus Port is one of Greece’s top privatisation deals, while successive Greek governments have approached the Chinese government for further investment to recover from recession.
Greece and China last month signed investment and trade deals worth $6.5 billion (4.8 billion euros) during an official visit by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.