Transport minister cancels meeting with taxi drivers [update]

Transport Minister Yiannis Ragousis canceled a scheduled meeting with unionists representing taxi drivers in Greece on Thursday, after a group of workers from the General Secretariat for Public Works occupied the ministry, including the minister?s office. The meeting had been expected to follow a 24-hour strike held by cabbies which ended at 5 a.m.

Employees at the General Secretariat for Public Works are protesting planned staff transfers in the region of Attica.

Taxi drivers, meanwhile, are trying to prevent the implementation of plans put forward by Ragousis for the sector?s liberalization. According to the Transport Ministry?s draft law, anyone wishing to apply for a taxi license will be able to do so. The new price of permits, however, has not been disclosed.

According to taxi driver unionists, Ragousis?s plan will place a tremendous strain on a sector which is already suffering losses due to the current financial crisis. They claim that the country?s 30,000 registered taxis are enough to meet public demand.

Instead, cabbies are asking for the implementation of a presidential decree previously announced by Ragousis?s predecessor, Dimitris Reppas. This plan, which had received the go-ahead from Greece?s creditors, noted that liberalization would be accompanied by a number of rules, including the issuing of a limited number of new permits.

Meanwhile, Ragousis announced that no meetings will take place as long as the ministry remains occupied.

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