Go-ahead given for port reform

The government authorized Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis yesterday to table in Parliament as soon as possible a bill that secures the jobs and labor rights of dockworkers after private investors commence operations in the country’s ports. Voulgarakis informed the inner cabinet about the reforms proposed for the commercial ports in Piraeus and Thessaloniki with the concession of services at container stations, in order for the port industry in Greece to grow stronger and to participate in global competition with better prospects. The minister said that the implementation of the policy to allow private investors into container stations paves the way for Greece to play a key role in the region very soon, becoming an important hub that will affect developments instead of just following them. He also referred to the draft law to be submitted in Parliament. «The bill safeguards the rights of the employees provided they wish to retain their jobs. It gives them the option to make a voluntary exit with very significant incentives. It gives employees the right to share in the capital gains that the Piraeus and Thessaloniki Port Authorities have through the privileged acquisition of shares by all workers in the authorities. It also allows the children of employees to be hired at a 10 percent rate provided they fulfill the conditions set by project contractors,» said Voulgarakis. The administration of the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) sent a letter to employees asking them to return to the negotiating table on Friday, February 1, and to stop their industrial action so that the port can return to normal operation and a climate of good faith can be restored. «We are inviting you back to the dialogue because there are common interests for both of us, while confrontation will mean no one is a winner,» the letter says. It adds that the strike action has already resulted in very serious financial, commercial and social consequences, as until yesterday more than 8,000 containers had amassed in the port. Today the Federation of Port Employees in Greece (OMYLE) is holding a 24-hour strike, while Piraeus port workers will also strike tomorrow.