Gas stations considering strike action

Gas station owners on some of the country’s islands are threatening to shut down their fuel pumps this week, at one of the busiest times of the year for the tourism industry, in protest at a government decision to introduce a price ceiling on petrol. The Development and Finance ministries announced on Thursday they will set a maximum selling price for fuel on 11 islands until the end of the month in order to stamp out profiteering in the sector. Despite the recent drop in international oil prices, fuel retailers, particularly in rural parts of the country, have been accused of being slow to pass on savings to motorists. The distributors, however, argue they are being unfairly targeted and that they are not alone in setting prices. «This is an unfair measure. If they really want to impose a price ceiling on fuel, it should be done along the entire supply chain, which includes refineries and not just the seller,» said an industry source. Service stations on islands including Corfu, Cephalonia, Lesvos, Lefkada and Chios will be affected, according to the ministry. The maximum price will be calculated by using the average sale price of petrol in the broader Athens area and adding transportation expenses. According to television reports over the weekend, a number of petrol stations on islands affected by the measure simply ignored the government order, stating, «We have not been informed of this.» Gas station owners are expected to meet today to decide on their protest plan. The threat of leaving islands without fuel comes at one the busiest times of year for Greece’s popular holiday destinations. Growth in the country’s tourism sector is widely expected to shrink this year, in comparison to last summer, due to the slowdown of the global economy and the strong euro. Due to the lack of competition in rural parts of the country, fuel prices are often found to be extraordinarily high. Unleaded petrol in Athens currently costs drivers about 1.10 euros per liter but can be as high as 1.35 euros in rural regions. [email protected]