Strike keeps ships tied up as supplies dwindle

Ferries remained moored for a fifth straight day yesterday as seamen continued their strike, sending farmers into despair as they watched their fresh produce start to rot away at ports across the country. The industrial action has also cut off islands from basic food, medicine and fuel supplies as the government looks for ways to get the country’s sea transport network operating again. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos described the situation as being very serious, adding that in every strike there are provisions made for emergencies. «We request that one ship be allowed to sail to each destination to cover emergency requirements,» he said. The Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO) is scheduled to continue its strike until tomorrow at 6 a.m. as sailors push ahead with demands which include higher pensions and measures to tackle unemployment. The workers group is expected to meet today to decide on their next step. In a sign of the desperation caused by the strike, about 300 farmers yesterday stormed into a prefecture building in Crete and demanded that a solution to the problem be found. Clashes also broke out at the ports of Iraklion and Hania between farmers and seaman while producers dumped tons of tomatoes and cucumbers in protest. According to drivers, who have requested a meeting with PNO, there are some 2,500 trucks stranded at ports. The Coastal Shipowners’ Union (EEA) has asked that the strike be labeled illegal and an abuse of power while Iraklion Prefect Dimitris Sarris told Kathimerini that he is considering calling a state of emergency in order to open the path for military ships to help transport goods. Three of the navy’s landing craft are said to be on standby in Crete ready to intervene. The PNO protest action has also left passengers isolated as plane tickets are disappearing amid soaring demand. A C-130 military plane yesterday flew 35 students back to Lesvos from Chios after they had no way of returning home from a school trip.

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