Minister accuses striking transport workers of breaking 'rules and limits'

Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis has hit back at striking public transport workers, claiming that only a minority of employees participate in the strikes.

Hatzidakis issued a strong criticism of the protesting workers as Athens metro employees entered a fifth consecutive day of strike action on Monday and heralded another walkout for Tuesday. There were also work stoppages on the tram and Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP).

“There are rules and limits to strike action,” he said. “I’m afraid that the way things are developing, there is no respect for the rules or limits.”

Hatzidakis gave figures showing that on January 17, when the metro workers were on strike, only 33 percent of employees went unpaid – as labor regulations demand when there is a walkout.

He said that the following day, when other modes of transport were on strike, 48 percent of metro employees went without pay. On the ISAP, 44 percent of workers were not paid, while on the tram, only 4 percent of employees forewent their day’s salary.

“This is unacceptable and I can no longer hide it from the Greek people,” he said.

Hatzidakis said he had given transport authorities instructions to investigate the situation.

The public company responsible for managing the metro, tram and electric railway, Urban Rail Transport (STASY), launched legal action on Monday, arguing the strikes are “illegal and abusive” as they are not in line with labor regulations.

The unions are protesting the fact that employees have been inducted into the unified salary scheme for the public sector.

A court decision is due by Monday evening.

On Monday, there was a work stoppage on the ISAP and tram from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For Tuesday the tram and electric railway are due to stop running between noon and 4 p.m., buses and trolley buses will not run between noon and 4 p.m. and the metro services will be halted all day as staff join another 24-hour strike.

Buses will also be out of circulation from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday.