Port workers greet Cosco with strike

Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) workers have called a two-day strike, starting October 1, to coincide with the handover of terminal management services to China’s Cosco Pacific in protest at the port’s privatization. Cosco Pacific, the world’s fifth-largest container port operator, has received a 35-year concession from the government to manage two container terminals at Piraeus in a bid to turn the port into an entry point for Southeast Europe. Employees have called for a «freeze» on the deal, due to concerns about some 600 employees being transferred from the state-owned port to the Chinese company. Workers also argue that the handover of terminal management services to Cosco should be delayed until a pending court decision is made assessing the legality of the agreement with the state. An additional 48-hour strike has been called to take place on October 6, as the workers prepare to hold talks on the issue with the new government before deciding on further protest action. The International Maritime Union, which represents cargo and passenger shipping companies that use Piraeus, described the decision to strike as «unacceptable, adding that its members are being held hostage by the workers. Previous protest action by workers, which intermittently spanned a period of some 14 months, included not working overtime, which severely slowed the speed of cargo traffic through the port.