NEWS

More transport woes on the cards

Long-suffering commuters are to face fresh woes on Friday as workers on the Athens metro, the Piraeus-Kifissia electric railway (ISAP) and the tram walk off the job for the second day in a row in protest at the government?s plans to transfer staff to other positions in the state sector and to put thousands on a heavily docked salary for 12 months.

Getting around will be slightly easier Friday than Thursday as buses, trolley buses and taxis will be operating normally, as will the national railway network. But further disruption is on the cards for the coming days with several new strikes planned while trade unions are meeting to plan further action.

Air-traffic controllers, who staged a three-hour walkout Thursday, are to hold a 24-hour strike on Sunday, meaning that all scheduled incoming and outbound flights will be canceled.

On Monday, a staff walkout will halt city bus services between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. and trolley buses between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Taxi drivers, who are protesting the government?s plans to open up their sector to competition, have already called a 48-hour strike for Tuesday and Wednesday, though sources said that those dates might change.

Thursday?s transport strike, which ironically coincided with World Car Free Day, resulted in traffic chaos as Athenians who usually use public transport took out their cars.

Compounding the congestion in the city center were more than 10 anti-austerity marches — by teachers, students, civil servants, nurses, transport workers and others.

Overall, the rallies were small by Greek standards and reportedly peaceful as riot police were out in force. But protests are expected to gain in intensity over the coming weeks ahead of two planned general strikes, on October 5 and 19, heralded by the the country?s two labor unions earlier this week.