ECONOMY

Companies and exporters are desperate for an end to industrial action at the country’s main seaports

Shipping and exporting companies have been sending out a desperate call to port authorities and employees to reach reconciliation so that the country’s main trade gates can operate as normal again. Many companies/members of the Piraeus-based International Maritime Union (IMU) are on the verge of bankruptcy due to the ongoing industrial action by port employees for a third consecutive month, as IMU members told its annual general meeting. Thousands of other firms and employees are in a poor financial state because they perform auxiliary services to the shipping sector, such as suppliers, repairers etc. «Our union’s positions on the issue are already known, but we stressed the fact that neither the authorities of the ports took the measures that would ensure their normal operation nor have the employees realized the extent of the ports’ devaluation. Immediate measures are needed to end the crisis,» said IMU president Nikos Arvanitis. The meeting also heard that the strike has hurt the credibility of the ports, in addition to the losses they incur. Already Piraeus is no longer being used as the main hub by several companies, while there are others who are questioning whether they should continue to dock at the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki. Problems have arisen in the external trade sector, too, as many foreign firms have opted for other suppliers due to the delays in the delivery of products made in Greece. In a letter to the prime minister, the president of the Federation of Attica and Piraeus Industries, Dimitris Mathios, has noted that the issue is political and therefore requires a political solution. The Northern Greece Exporters’ Association and members of the Manufacturing Chamber of Thessaloniki are also issuing a call for the ports to return to normality. Representatives of 43 exporters sent a letter to the Piraeus Port Authority, similar to that sent to the Thessaloniki Authority, while chamber members are considering legal action against anyone responsible for the problems they face in ports and the damage inflicted on them from the recent strike by the Public Power Corporation.