NEWS

Seamen retract calls for strike

The Hellenic Seamen?s Union (PNO) said on Friday that it would not proceed with strike action, paralyzing the country?s ports in the middle of the tourist season, after a meeting with Alternate Merchant Marine Minister Haris Paboukis seemed to appease protesters.

Unionists convened on Friday after talks with Paboukis on Thursday evening during which they aired their objections to the government?s plans to decrease their social security and pension benefits. Paboukis reportedly suggested freezing the proposed changes. PNO?s general secretary, Yiannis Halas, said the proposal was an encouraging first step although it fell short of fully satisfying union demands.

?I can?t say were completely satisfied,? Halas said. ?It?s a positive step but it doesn?t cover our demands.?

Still, the gesture was deemed sufficient to call off the threat of action. The union said it would reconvene at the end of August to review the state of play.

Paboukis, for his part, referred to Thursday?s meeting as ?constructive,? noting that some of the additional demands put forward by the seamen ?required further study.?

The government was keen to avert a strike by seamen in the middle of the summer tourism period, particularly as a week of action by protesting taxi drivers has paralyzed services, but authorities are also bound by their commitments to foreign creditors to push through austerity measures and have little room to negotiate.