Cabbies rev up protests

Thousands of taxi owners from around the country are expected to descend on Parliament on Tuesday afternoon as the liberalization of their sector is discussed in the House.

Cabbies are scheduled to begin their march at 4 p.m. and will be blocking Syntagma Square until the end of the Parliamentary discussion, which is set to begin at 6 p.m.

Transport Minister Yiannis Ragousis will be outlining his ministry?s plan for the liberalization of the taxi sector to MPs of the ruling PASOK party, some of whom have sided with the unions representing taxi drivers, who are arguing that Ragousis?s proposal is in violation of a previous agreement they had signed with his predecessor Dimitris Reppas.

The main point of contention in the new proposal is the lifting of restrictions in the number of permits that can be issued for taxis. Current owners argue that this will not only create a free-for-all in which supply will far outstrip demand, but will also mean a major financial loss for current permit holders, who may have paid up to as much as 200,000 euros to be issued a license.

Taxi drivers entered their eighth day of strike action on Tuesday. Over the course of just over a week, they have blockaded ports and airports around the country, occupied the Rio-Antirio Bridge and tollgates, and, in a move to appease the frustrated public and tourists, opened the gates at several key archaeological sites so that visitors could enter without paying.