NEWS

Cabbies enter third week of action

Striking taxi decided on Sunday to press on into a third week of protest action until the government satisfies their demands for the planned liberalization of their sector to be subject to restrictions.

?We will continue our action until our problems are solved,? the leader of the Attica taxi drivers? union, Thymios Lyberopoulos, said after talks with union members.

Lyberopoulos said there should be limits to protests, however, noting that actions such as the throwing of oil onto roads on Piraeus last Friday were reprehensible. On Saturday, protesting taxi drivers briefly blocked the western port of Patra and vandalized the offices of ruling PASOK on the Ionian island of Corfu.

On Sunday, cabbies blocked the Cretan port of Iraklio after a cruise ship carrying some 1,600 passengers had docked. The protesters allowed the tourists, mostly Americans, to leave the vessel but not to board buses waiting to take them on excursions.

On Monday, taxi drivers, who have blocked ports, airports and roads over the past two weeks, are reportedly planning to stage motorcades through the capital. They are also expected to stage a fresh protest in front of the Transport Ministry in a bid for fresh talks with Minister Yiannis Ragousis, with whom negotiations broke down last week.

Ragousis has been slammed by MPs from across the political spectrum after reneging on a deal agreed by his predecessor, Dimitris Reppas, with unions that would have set a ceiling on the number of taxi licenses issued based on local populations.

The leader of the main conservative opposition, Antonis Samaras, said in an interview with Sunday?s Kathimerini that he favors a deal along the lines of the Reppas plan. ?We are in favor of deregulation subject to rules, the way it?s done all over the world,? he said.