NEWS

Government fails to break taxi deadlock

Taxi drivers said on Friday that they would continue with strike action, which is set to enter its third week on Monday, after talks with Transport Minister Yiannis Ragousis failed to satisfy them.

Efthymios Lyberopoulos, the head of the Attica taxi drivers? union, said the minister had appeared open to dialogue but avoided making the specific commitments they sought.

?The strike will continue until we receive a response to our demands,? Lyberopoulos said.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the ministry said the deregulation of the sector would go ahead as planned. But ministry sources told Kathimerini that government officials would continue talks with members of all related parties -- including taxi drivers and representatives of the tourism sector, which has been badly hit by the cabbies? action -- until the end of August.

Lyberopoulos indicated after his talks with Ragousis that his union members were not prepared to wait that long for a solution. He added that his union welcomed the introduction of ?legal and clear regulations? for the issuing of taxi licenses so that illegal and expensive transactions are eliminated.

Friday?s fruitless meeting following Thursday?s intervention by Prime Minister George Papandreou, who called on taxi drivers to tone down their protest action, which has involved the blocking of ports and airports.

The conservative opposition New Democracy party shifted its stance on the taxi drivers? action yesterday with its leader Antonis Samaras appealing to them to ?show responsibility vis-a-vis the government?s irresponsibility? and call off their strike.

Andreas Andreadis, head of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), sought to be diplomatic, stressing that the cabbies? action was jeopardizing tourism but also appealing to protesters to express their grievances less destructively. Andreadis said he would submit proposals to Ragousis soon on how taxi drivers can contribute more effectively to the tourism sector.

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