Transport woes to resume as staff walk out on Thursday

After a spell of relative normality on public transport, commuters are to face fresh woes on Thursday as workers are to join a 24-hour strike in protest at the government?s ongoing austerity drive.

There will be no services on the Athens metro, electric railway (ISAP) and tram, though city buses and trolley buses will run as normal.

Unionists called the action to protest fresh cuts to wages and pensions that have already been voted through Parliament as well as the repercussions of earlier reforms on their sector.

Staff transfers and the decision by hundreds of workers to opt for early retirement to avoid a new barrage of cuts have caused operational problems and led to a spike in fare dodging due to a lack staff for carrying out inspections, according to workers.

On Wednesday labor unions staged a three-hour walkout from noon, with staff occupying several town halls across the country, as part of a pan-European anti-austerity initiative involving protests in Spanish and Portuguese cities.

In a joint statement, the Greek civil servants? union (ADEDY) and the country?s main labor union (GSEE) called on workers to ?once again unite their voices with those in Europe against neoliberal policies.?

Unions organized a demonstration outside Parliament late on Wednesday as MPs debated legislation on cuts to the health sector but the turnout was muted, partly due to heavy rainfall. Riot police were out in force to avert any violence but there were no reports of even minor scuffles.

Wednesday?s action in Athens also affected several archaeological sites including the Acropolis, which remained closed between noon and 3 p.m. Culture Ministry staff have decided to stage demonstrations every Thursday through March to protest spending cuts. State hospital doctors joined the action yesterday, holding a 24-hour walkout in protest at cuts to health spending due to be voted through Parliament.

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