Court calls Piraeus port strike unlawful

A Piraeus appeals court yesterday deemed unlawful and abusive the industrial action by employees at the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP), reversing the original ruling of a court of first instance that had allowed the strike to continue. The court also ruled unlawful any future strike in the same form if it is based on the same demands. It threatened the workers’ union with a 4,000-euro fine for each day of industrial action from now on. OLP employees had since early January been refusing to work overtime or at weekends, creating a huge backlog of containers at Greece’s main port and financial losses estimated at around 15-18 million euros. They had been protesting against the concession of the Container Station (SEMPO) to private investors, which the court considered a business move that is exclusively up to the administration of OLP and is the best economic and development proposal, particularly considering that workers’ jobs have been guaranteed. The judgment accepted that the damage to OLP and the public was clearly unjustifiable and that strikers were demanding the non-implementation of a business decision. Consequently, employees will have to return to work as normal and their daily productivity must now soar, given that throughout their industrial action since January 5 the processing of containers had dropped from 110 to just 43 per day. «What we are seeking, as users of the port and as companies that operate through commercial ports, is that a quick solution be found so that ports can operate properly again and we can have our goods processed; all this time we have had to have them processed through other ports at additional cost,» sources from the International Maritime Union (IMU) told this newspaper. Workers’ representatives said yesterday they would study the ruling and plan their future moves. On Tuesday, port employees also had recourse to the Council of State, requesting annulment of procedures for the entry of private investors to the port of Piraeus.

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