ECONOMY

Calls for an end to port turbulence

The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) called on the government to keep an open mind on the demands that may be submitted by the employees of the Piraeus and Thessaloniki port authorities and to ensure the smooth operation of the two corporations. It also asked the unions of the two authorities to call off the industrial action they have announced. Port workers however seem intransigent. «We do not accept the entry of private investors at ports which are profitable and can themselves make the investments necessary for their modernization,» said the head of port unions, Giorgos Georgakopoulos. Yet the government is determined to proceed with the modernization of ports through the entry of private investors, while tomorrow the governing board of the Piraeus Authority will discuss the international call for expression of interest regarding the concession of some services to investors. The ministry, however, may make a goodwill gesture by offering workers additional incentives for voluntary exit. EBEA president Costas Michalos said in a statement that companies are making a great effort to strengthen their exports and a key factor in this effort is the quality, speed and cost of the services supplied by the Piraeus and Thessaloniki port authorities. «The government’s decision to proceed with a tender for the concession of part of the container terminal operations of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, provided it manages to attract the interest of serious and reliable investors, is expected to improve the quality of service provided to companies and contribute to the upgrading of Greek ports in the coming years,» stated Michalos. He stressed that Greece cannot «remain stuck in yesterday’s obsessions and doctrines and must respond to the needs and opportunities of today and tomorrow.» The Panhellenic Exporters’ Association (PEA) has also sent messages to all competent government bodies, and has obtained the pledge that «there is a clear determination to fully secure the interests of all sides.» PEA calls once again on all sides to cooperate so that «in a climate of sobriety and mutual understanding a solution can be found to satisfy everyone for the benefit of the development and efficiency of Greek ports, as well as the improvement of the competitiveness and outward-looking side of the economy.»