No ferryboats until Saturday

Thousands of holidaymakers and islanders are to remain stranded for at least another two days following yesterday’s decision by the sailors’ union to continue their strike action until Saturday morning. The Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO) said the second in a row of rolling, 48-hour strikes would continue until 6 a.m. on Saturday, and would be renewed unless the government took immediate action to meet their demands – mainly that seamen’s pensions should amount to 70 percent of their working salary and that their pension fund should not be absorbed into the debt-ridden state Social Security Foundation (IKA). This means that tens of thousands of Greeks intending to spend a long weekend – Monday is the Pentecost holiday – in the archipelago will probably have to change their plans, while visitors already on the islands will remain marooned with dwindling resources. Furthermore, islands that depend heavily on food imports will soon feel the pinch, as hundreds of lorries carrying supplies remain stuck in the country’s ports. Yesterday, the Hellenic Association of Tourist and Travel Agencies (HATTA) urged the government to find a speedy solution. «Tourism in Greece is in a state of crisis due to continuous problems on an international and domestic level,» HATTA said in a statement. «We appeal that the cost of the strike for tourism, and, by extension, the national economy… be taken into consideration.» PNO charges that while the government agreed to their demands and promised to satisfy them in the new pension bill currently being debated in Parliament, it reneged on its pledge. In a fruitless meeting with unionists yesterday, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis appealed to strikers to allow at least one daily ferry departure per destination.

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