OA staff threaten to block airports

The battlefield between the conservative government and union groups looks set to move to the country’s runways as the Olympic Airlines workers’ union threatened yesterday to shut down all airports in the event that the national air carrier is closed down. Manolis Patestos, president of the OSPA umbrella union, said that the workers’ group will not allow anyone to close down the company despite a number of failed attempts to privatize the loss-making airline. «There is no way that we will have open airports if Olympic Airlines is not flying,» said Patestos, suggesting that Greece’s 32 airports will be shut down by protesting workers. Union groups are concerned about the future of the airline, saying that the state has not done enough to protect it. Along with repeated failed attempts by different governments to sell the company, the European Commission has added to its woes by launching an investigation into alleged subsidies under the previous socialist government. The results of the investigation are expected next Wednesday. In a bid to step up pressure on the government, OSPA announced yesterday that it will demonstrate at the Thessaloniki International Fair this weekend. OSPA officials were joined at the press conference yesterday by the country’s largest umbrella union, GSEE, which will also march this weekend in protest at the government’s recent reforms in the labor market. Transport Minister Michalis Liapis has turned down a request by unions for a meeting over the airline’s future, OSPA said.