NEWS

PM holds emergency meeting on transport strike

Greece's conservative prime minister was on Thursday holding an emergency meeting with Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis to decide how to get striking public transport employees back to work.

Meanwhile, union representatives said Thursday that they would suspend their action if the government committed to maintaining the collective labor agreement, which expires on April 30, before negotiating a new deal.

There was no report of a reaction from the government.

Strikers protesting pay cuts on Thursday left the capital's subway system closed for an eighth day, despite a court decision earlier this week declaring their protest illegal.

On Wednesday, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou called on metro employees to comply with the ruling.

“The suffering of citizens and the disruption of the capital’s economic life cannot continue,” he said.

Kedikoglou said the workers – who object to a reduction in their salaries that has resulted from their induction into a new civil service wage structure – risked losing their jobs if they continued with their action.

He did not determine whether the option of issuing civil mobilization to force employees back to work was still on the table, though senior Transport Ministry officials indicated that it was.

The prospect of such a measure, used against seamen, truckers and street cleaners in 2010 and 2011, appears to have divided the fragile coalition with both junior partners, PASOK and Democratic Left, expressing opposition.

Also on Thursday the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP) and the tram will stop running between noon and 4 p.m., and buses will halt their services between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Those without private transport will have to rely on trolley buses or taxis, which will be running as normal.

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