Public transport strike to bring Athens to a halt

There will be no public transport in Athens on Tuesday as workers stage their latest in a series of protests to coincide with Parliament voting on a bill that reforms their sector.

Authorities have lifted restrictions on cars entering the center of Athens as a result of Tuesday?s strike but the city is likely to be gridlocked, especially in the afternoon when the protestors plan to gather in Kotzia Square and march toward Parliament.

Transport workers oppose the draft law as they think it will lead to a poorer service and that it paves the way for the privatization of some modes of transport. A contentious part of the bill also proposes the transfer of some 1,500 of the 11,000-strong workforce to other public sector departments to cut costs.

Unions have been protesting against the bill since December 8. Today will be the 10th time since then that there is a 24-hour strike on one or all modes of transport. There has also been at least one work stoppage in 20 days since the beginning of December.

The greatest disruption has been on the buses, whose workforce has walked off the job 15 times. There will be no buses in circulation between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday as employees will be attending their union?s general meeting.

It is widely thought that transport workers will continue their protests even if the bill is, as expected, voted through Parliament.

The disruption has come at a time when commuters are also faced with steeper ticket prices. The cost of using most modes of public transport in Athens went up by 40 percent as of February 1. Charges on the Proastiakos suburban railway also went up yesterday. Traveling within Athens will cost 1.40 euros rather than 1, while a journey from Athens International Airport to Kiato, west of the capital, will cost 14 euros rather than 10.

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