Ferry strike begins; Crete farmers warn of produce losses

Greek sailors on Tuesday began a two-day strike against government reforms, halting ferry connections to the islands ahead of the Orthodox Easter holidays and disrupting the export of agricultural produce.

The sailors’ union (PNO) said no ferries would leave Piraeus and the neighboring ports of Lavrio and Rafina, all near Athens, three weeks after a previous work stoppage. Greek Orthodox Easter this year falls on April 15.

“Our hand was forced by the government’s callous policies,» Antonis Dalakogiorgos, head of the PNO-affiliated union of Greek merchant marine sailors, told Flash Radio.

“They have brought measures that eliminate decades of rights gains,» he said.

The walkout will also affect the transport of agricultural goods mainly from the island of Crete whose economy depends on tourism and crop sales.

“Unless a solution is found, more than 15,000 tons of farm produce will have to be destroyed,» said George Dispyrakis, head of growers at the Cretan town of Tymbaki.

“We are in danger of losing Greek and foreign markets with whom we have signed delivery contracts,» he told Ethnos daily. [AP]