Cabbies set to return to work

Taxi owners and drivers are expected to announce an end to their 18-day strike on Friday after appearing to reach a temporary compromise with regional governors Thursday over the issuing of new licenses.

Cabbies are due to hold an emergency meeting at 10 a.m. on Friday after the head of the taxi owners? union (SATA), Thymios Lyberopoulos, appeared pleased by the outcome of his talks with the 13 regional governors Thursday.

Attica Governor Yiannis Sgouros assured Lyberopoulos that no new licenses for taxis would be issued before the Infrastructure and Transport Ministry submits its liberalization bill.

?Our sector can feel safe with the support of the 13 governors,? Lyberopoulos said after the talks. The cabbies are opposed to Transport Minister Yiannis Ragousis?s plans to completely deregulate their sector and argue that there should be limits on the number of licenses issued based on the population of each city.

As a result, the cabbies will only be calling a temporary truce in their dispute with the minister and will wait for him to draw up the bill before deciding on any further action.

?We proposed to the taxi drivers that they agree on a truce,? said Sgouros. ?Society is demanding that there is some calm until the end of summer. I am sure they will heed this call because they realize that this is in their own interest. Their action has caused problems for tourism and Greece?s image abroad.?

The cabbies were also encouraged to call off their strike by colleagues on the islands, many of whom returned to work this week anyway.

It is estimated that taxi drivers on Crete were losing up to 100 euros a day by taking part in the strike during what is peak season for their business due to the influx of tourists.