Dockers to join talks on Greek ports sale

Striking dockworkers at Greece’s largest port, Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), will have a say on the terms of a tender to sell cargo facilities, their union said yesterday. Fearing job cuts, Greek port workers have staged repeated strikes and refused to work overtime since the beginning of the year, protesting government plans to partly privatize the country’s two largest ports at Piraeus and Thessaloniki. Greece, with two of the largest ports in the Mediterranean, is seeking foreign investors to modernize the facilities as their role as regional hubs is slipping. «We will take part in the discussions… but we do not agree with a sell-off,» said Giorgos Nouhoutidis, head of Piraeus port’s dockworkers’ union. «We will not be a party to the government’s plans. We will continue striking through February.» The tender, due to be published soon, will allow the winning bidder to operate and expand two of Piraeus port’s commercial docks for a number of years, according to a draft proposal sent by OLP management to unions. In another tender for the Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH) in northern Greece launched last week, Greece is inviting companies to manage the port’s dock for up to 35 years. OLP Chief Executive Nikos Anastasopoulos called on port workers to end the strike, saying management may withhold wages if disruptions continue. «The social impact of these strikes is very serious. Clients are turning to other ports and our exports have been affected,» he said in a proposal to dialogue sent to unions. (Reuters)