Doctors step up strike action, want back pay, more nurses Social Security Foundation (IKA) clinics will be closed for five days from Tuesday after members of IKA’s doctors union decided yesterday to intensify recent strike action which has resulted in the closure of IKA clinics since Wednesday. IKA doctors, who are demanding payment of back wages and the hiring of more nursing staff, staged a three-hour strike yesterday at the Evangelismos Hospital in central Athens. IKA doctors also want colleagues on open-ended contracts to be hired on a permanent basis. NO TAXIS ON MONDAY Striking drivers demand higher fares, bus lane access There will be no taxis on the streets of Attica from 5 a.m. on Monday until the same time on Tuesday, following yesterday’s decision by taxi drivers to stage a 24-hour strike ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled presentation in Parliament of a draft bill which threatens to shake up their sector. Taxi drivers want the right to charge higher fares and use bus lanes. They also demand that the Transport Ministry, which proposed the legislation, postpone action for two months until the results of a study their union has commissioned from the University of Piraeus are made public. The Union of Attica Taxi Drivers (SATA) president, Manolis Bandourakis, said the proposed bill could mean 20-percent fewer taxis on the road. SOCCER COACH Pathiakakis dies at first practice Coach Yiannis Pathiakakis, 48, appointed just three days ago to take over struggling premier league club Akratitos, died of a heart attack yesterday during his first practice with the team. Pathiakakis suddenly fainted while taking shots at the team’s goalkeeper; he was rushed to hospital where he was declared dead. A renowned player with Apollon and Panionios in the 1970s and 1980s, his greatest achievements as a coach were taking Apollon to the UEFA Cup competition in 1995 and to the Greek Cup Final in 1996, and winning the Cup with AEK in 2000. Pathiakakis had a history of heart disease and had undergone a bypass operation in 1998. PASOK firebombs Homemade explosive devices – consisting of gas canisters tied together – damaged two local offices of the ruling PASOK party and a bank in three separate incidents in central Athens early yesterday morning. The first blast occurred at 2.28 a.m. in Kypseli, western Athens, where a firebomb exploded by a National Bank ATM. Two minutes later a second explosion shook a PASOK office in nearby Galatsi. The third blast occurred at 4.40 a.m. outside another PASOK office in Exarchia. There has been no claim of responsibility for the blasts, which caused no injuries. Police suspect the involvement of self-proclaimed anarchists who may also have carried out Wednesday’s attack on a car showroom on Alexandras Avenue. Teacher strikes High schools across the country remained closed yesterday as protesting secondary school teachers, whose demands include a 25-percent salary increase and the abolishment of a new system of evaluating their performance, participated in a 24-hour strike called by the Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME). Teachers in Athens and Thessaloniki delivered their demands to the Education Ministry and Ministry for Macedonia and Thrace respectively during simultaneous demonstrations which began at 11 a.m. in both cities. Union leaders are due to meet again on Saturday, February 16, to decide on the course of further action. Cyprus talks Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday discussed territorial issues in their 10th face-to-face meeting aimed at ending the division of Cyprus. The talks covered areas to be held by Greek and Turkish Cypriots under a settlement. Denktash told reporters yesterday there had been «hitches» in the first phase of talks – without elaborating – but added the second phase was going more smoothly. The two leaders have agreed to drop scheduled meetings next Monday and Wednesday but will meet on Thursday and Friday. Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, who met his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Koshis in Nicosia yesterday, said Greece and Cyprus were cooperating closely on matters of security, illegal immigration and crime. ND walkout New Democracy MPs walked out of Parliament yesterday in protest at the absence of Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis at a question session during which they had intended to grill the minister on economic policy.