Exporters ‘defenseless’ against strike

Greece’s exporters appealed to the government yesterday to help put an end to intensifying protest action at the country’s largest port, Piraeus, which is delaying goods from being shipped to customers. Exporters, faced with a slowing global economy, have been experiencing delays in the transportation of goods due to docker workers’ refusal to work overtime since the start of the year in protest against the privatization of the port. The Panhellenic Exporters Association (PEA), which has about 1,500 members, said a recent decision by Piraeus port drivers to stop loading containers has left them «completely defenseless and weak in the face of the crisis.» «Many businesses are being forced to close due to the high costs created by the excessive delays,» PEA said in a letter to the Finance and Merchant Marine ministries. Greece is in the process of handing over the management of Piraeus port’s cargo handling services to China’s Cosco Pacific for an estimated 4.3 billion euros in a 35-year deal. Greek export receipts remain solid due to robust growth in many of Greece’s main trading partners in southeastern Europe. According to provisional data provided by the Bank of Greece, the country’s exports in the first half of 2008 rose 15.5 percent year-on-year to total 9.5 billion euros.