More transport woes next week

Next week promises to be another difficult one for commuters as public transport workers plan to resume work stoppages and strike action in protest at draft reforms to streamline their services which were submitted in Parliament on Thursday.

City bus services will be suspended between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday as bus workers walk off the job to attend their union’s general assembly. The union has also called a 48-hour strike for Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the planned transfer of hundreds of staff to other public sector posts and the forced retirement of hundreds more.

Workers on the Athens metro and the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway have also decided to walk off the job on Monday. They may opt to strike on other days next week as well.

The action is being timed to coincide with an increase in ticket prices due to come into effect on Tuesday February 1. Tickets for single journeys will rise to 1.20 euros while multiple-journey tickets – good for 90 minutes from the time they are validated – will cost 1.40 euros. The Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) said that tickets purchased at the old price will be usable through February 14.

The planned price hikes have spurred a protest movement by consumer groups and the Communist Party-affiliated PAME union whose members have been placing trash bags over ticket machines at stations on the Piraeus-Kifissia urban electric railway (ISAP).

In a related development, the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) announced the suspension from tomorrow of many of its routes in the Peloponnese and some in northern Greece as part of a restructuring plan aimed at slashing the company’s debts. Commuters who have purchased tickets for the routes will be reimbursed, OSE said.