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No end to transport woes

 Metro to remain closed for seventh day as unions plan more strikes this week

Commuters in Athens face more inconvenience over the coming days as public transport unions are digging in their heels regarding their resistance to wage reductions, prompting the government to consider issuing civil mobilization orders to force the employees back to work.

The capital’s metro network is to remain closed for a seventh consecutive day on Wednesday, despite a court decision on Monday deeming the protest action, led by the main metro workers’ union SELMA, illegal.

There will be no service on the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway or the tram between noon and 4 p.m. Beyond fixed-track transport – managed by STASY – buses and trolley buses will also be out of circulation between 11 and 5 p.m.

There is a strong possibility of further action this week. Unions representing transport workers met on Tuesday in a bid to coordinate strike action. SELMA did not take part in the talks, prompting speculation about whether the metro union is attempting to convince other labor groups to call rolling 24-hour strikes.

Tuesday’s meeting, however, produced a tentative agreement over protests for next week. On Tuesday, workers on all modes of public transport will walk off the job between noon and 4 p.m. A 24-hour strike is being planned for Thursday, January 31.

Sources suggested the government may turn to civil mobilization orders in order to ensure that metro workers return to to their jobs.

On Monday, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis accused the majority of striking workers of still claiming wages on strike days by declaring them as paid leave or sick days. This prompted an angry response from unionists, leaving little room for negotiations between the two sides.

The unions are protesting transport workers being brought under a new civil service wage structure. As a result of the switch, STASY’s salary bill is to be reduced from 97.7 million euros in 2012 to 74.6 million this year. Average gross wages without overtime on the metro will fall from about 2,500 euros to 2,038.

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday Jan 22, 2013 (22:13)  
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