Problems mount as strikes continue

The stock exchange in Athens was closed for a full second day yesterday and parts of Greece suffered blackouts as protest action by workers opposing government pension reform plans continued. Workers are protesting against the conservative government’s plans to merge 133 pension funds into 13 in a draft bill expected to be submitted to Parliament today. Trading on the Athens Exchange was suspended due to a strike by Bank of Greece employees that prevented the settlement of transactions. Central bank authorities have turned to a labor court to declare the strike abusive in a decision expected this morning. The Greek Federation of Bank Employees’ Unions (OTOE), whose members held a two-hour work stoppage yesterday, have described government policy «as aiming to ban all pension and labor rights and weakening the union movement.» Workers at the Public Power Corporation (PPC) walked off the job, forcing the power company to shut down a number of energy plants, causing blackouts in different parts of Greece. Television footage late yesterday showed images of large parts of different cities being covered in darkness. Meanwhile, dock workers walked off the job for 24 hours yesterday, bringing cargo operations in the country’s main ports to a halt. Protest action is set to continue in coming days. Municipal workers will strike tomorrow in a move expected to affect rubbish collection and have announced further protest action next week.

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