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Athens metro workers on strike for 8th day, threatened with layoffs

With Athenians facing the eighth straight day of commuting upheaval Thursday, government officials on Wednesday warned public transport staff to call off rolling walkouts or face legal action and possibly the loss of their jobs.

The Athens metro is to remain out of service for the eighth day in a row on Thursday while 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.

“The suffering of citizens and the disruption of the capital’s economic life cannot continue,” government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said and called on protesting workers to comply with a court ruling earlier this week that deemed their action illegal.

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.

Meanwhile a rift emerged between the two junior partners after PASOK officials reportedly pressed Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis to accept an amendment proposed by the socialist party earlier this month seeking the exclusion of certain categories of public transport workers such as drivers and engineers from the provisions of the new wage scale. Democratic Left cadres are said to have responded angrily to the proposal, accusing the party of clientelism.

Unionists have already called further protest action for next week with walkouts scheduled for Tuesday and labor unions gearing for a 24-hour general strike on Thursday, January 31.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday Jan 23, 2013 (22:17)  
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