NEWS

Hiatus in public transport disruption

Commuters will be able to enjoy a break from transport chaos on Thursday as all services are to run as normal following a decision on Wednesday by the Piraeus-Kifissia electric railway (ISAP) to call off a planned 24-hour strike.

The hiatus will be short-lived as staff are to resume their protests on Friday, but these will take the form of work stoppages rather than 24-hour strikes.

Bus workers are to walk off the job between 11 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. on Friday, trolley bus staff will halt services between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and ISAP workers are to stage a stoppage from noon to 4 p.m. Metro staff have yet to make their intentions known for Friday.

Strike action peaked on Wednesday as all public transport apart from the tram and the Proastiakos suburban railway halted due to walkouts by staff protesting the government?s planned reforms to their loss-making services.

According to sources, participation in the strikes was far from total. In the case of the metro strike, around a third of the organization?s 1,420 workers had opposed it.

Turnout at a demonstration in the city center was muted too. A few hundred protesters marched through the capital. Still, central Athens was choked with traffic once again as thousands of commuters took to their cars.

Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas appealed to city dwellers to show tolerance and to managers of public transport companies to use all legal means to ensure that services operate. He also sought to appease the concerns of unionists, noting that the government ?is not discussing the possibility of privatizing public transport companies.?

Reppas also heralded ?a legislative initiative? foreseeing tougher penalties for fare dodgers but did not offer details of the envisaged law.