Customs strike hangs in balance

Striking customs officials were in talks last night to decide whether to continue with their action, which has caused fuel shortages in Attica, despite a court declaring it illegal on Saturday. The customs officers, who have stayed away from work since last Tuesday, had wanted to extend their protest until Wednesday so they could take part in a general strike that has the backing of private and public sector unions. However, an Athens court ruled on Saturday that their action is «unlawful and excessive» after the Finance Ministry took legal action against the striking employees. Following the announcement of the decision, the ministry said that it would be conveyed immediately to the protesting workers and that they would have to return to work the following day. However, a substantial number of officials yesterday appeared to be in favor of continuing the action. The 3,200-strong union is protesting against planned changes to the customs officials’ social security benefits as well as pay cuts, which are part of the government’s austerity measures. The strike began to lose momentum on Friday, when dozens of officials in Thessaloniki went back to work. As a result, fuel trucks from Attica and other parts of southern Greece have been heading to northern Greece over the weekend to fill up with gasoline to distribute to gas stations that have run out of fuel completely. The shortage of fuel has led to those gas stations that still have supplies pushing up their prices, so that in most cases motorists were paying above 1.30 euros per liter for gasoline.

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