New wave of strikes hits

Another surge of strikes is gathering pace across the country as tanker truck owners are due to meet today to decide whether to continue with action that has caused a severe shortage of fuel across the country. Greece’s largest union group, GSEE, has called a nationwide strike for some of its members tomorrow to protest government plans to reduce its stakes in OTE telecom and the country’s two largest ports in Piraeus and Thessaloniki. Transport, hospitals, ports and banks are likely to be worst hit. «This is only the first step. We will certainly continue with more strikes in the near future,» said Stathis Anestis, GSEE spokesman. OTE employees and dock workers in ports across the country will stage a 24-hour walkout tomorrow. In addition, there will be three-hour work stoppages at state carrier Olympic Airlines, post offices, electricity utility PPC and the Athens Water Company, starting at midday. Some flights will also be affected due to a work stoppage by air-traffic controllers. Doctors at state hospitals will set the ball rolling today by walking off the job for 48 hours in support of financial demands. Greece has been hit by a series of strikes in recent months that have affected trade. In the past few days, Greeks have been forced to queue for hours at petrol stations due to strike action by fuel truck owners. Truckers are demanding the government allow them to charge higher road haulage charges. They are expected to meet today to decide whether to continue with their strike, which began early last week. Industry sources claim the strike has created shortages in some food markets, particularly on islands, as produce has been left stranded at ports around the country. Unionists allowed 400 private tanker trucks to distribute fuel to gas stations around the country but mainly Athens. This was compared to just 200 trucks that were allowed on the road on Monday. However, the government yesterday stuck to its position that it would not allow the truckers an increase of more than the 5 percent, which was announced last month, and said that it would not be negotiating further with the unions.