Transport staff to go on with illegal strike

Commuters are to face upheaval for the sixth day in a row on Tuesday after trade unions said they would press ahead with a 24-hour strike on the Athens metro and work stoppages on other modes of transport despite court rulings deeming the action illegal and abusive.

There will be no metro service at all on Tuesday while the tram and Piraeus-Kifissia electric railway (ISAP) are to stop running between noon and 4 p.m. with buses and trolley buses suspending their services between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

It remained unclear whether the government would resort to imposing martial law and force the striking employees back to work, with government sources telling Kathimerini, “We will use all legal means at our disposal.” However the union representing the metro workers said in a statement that its action was a matter of principle and an expression of solidarity with two colleagues who, it said, “suffered acute heart attacks following the threats of the transport minister.”

Earlier in the day, Development and Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis lashed out at striking public transport workers, claiming that only a minority of employees have joined recent strikes. “There are rules and limits to strike action,” he said. “I’m afraid that the way things are developing, there is no respect for the rules or limits.” Hatzidakis gave figures showing that on January 17, when the metro workers were on strike, only 33 percent of employees declared they were striking and had their salaries withheld, as labor regulations demand when there is a walkout. The minister said that the following day, when other modes of transport were on strike, 48 percent of metro employees went without pay. On ISAP, 44 percent of workers were not paid, while on the tram, only 4 percent of employees forewent their day’s salary. “This is unacceptable and I can no longer hide it from the Greek people,” he said.

Unionists are protesting the fact that employees have been inducted into the unified salary scheme for the public sector, resulting in their salaries being reduced.

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