Ferry delay sets MPs debating

A ferry carrying 75 passengers to northeastern Aegean islands was delayed for over 16 hours yesterday following a blockade by the seamen’s union in protest at a severe crew shortage on the vessel. The Nissos Limnos, which had been due to sail at 9 p.m. on Tuesday from Lavrion to Aghios Eftstratios and Lemnos, left at 1.30 p.m. yesterday after all-night talks between unionists, the shipowners and government officials. The delay sparked a heated exchange in Parliament, with opposition MPs accusing Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Paschalidis of being too soft on the shipowning firm. «We should not be begging shipowners to display social responsibility,» New Democracy’s Parthena Fountoukidou said. «We should demand that they obey the law.» Communist MP Nikos Gatzis claimed the crew was 15 percent below strength. «We are talking here about the life of the crew and passengers,» he said. The ferry finally departed after the shipowners promised to hire another seven seamen within the next two days.