NEWS

Commuters face more upheaval

The outlook for transport services in Athens was not good Monday as taxi drivers appeared to be gearing up for another clash with Transport Minister Yiannis Ragousis over plans to open up their sector to competition.

Meanwhile, unions representing public transport services are preparing for a new wave of strikes over reforms.

Ragousis is to brief the Cabinet today on his finalized proposals for the liberalization of the taxi drivers? sector — one of dozens of restricted occupations that Greece has pledged to open up. The minister has insisted that he will not shy away from ?full liberalization? despite vehement protests by cabbies whose action in August caused serious problems for the tourism sector.

Reports that the government has come up with a ?carrot-and-stick? plan for cabbies — which would fine those who have sold their licenses without paying the necessary tax and use the proceeds to offer tax breaks to cabbies who have acquired their license legally in the past few years — clearly incensed the head of the Attica taxi drivers? union, Thymios Lyberopoulos.

Lashing out at Ragousis as ?naive, illiterate and sly,? the unionist claimed that the leaked scheme was illegal and accused the minister of being in cahoots with the tourism industry.

With a fresh standoff by taxi drivers looming, public transport workers are to meet tomorrow to decide on whether to stage fresh strike action in protest at plans by the government to streamline their services, introducing mergers and new collective labor contracts.

Last Friday, employees of the Piraeus-Kifissia electric railway (ISAP) and the Athens metro staged a 24-hour walkout, halting services.