Seamen defy ruling with strike

Two labor unions representing marine engineers said yesterday that they would go ahead with a 24-hour strike today to protest the planned lifting of cabotage restrictions and impending pension reforms, breaking away from their umbrella union, the Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO), and defying a court ruling deeming their action illegal and abusive. Accusing PNO for «failing to take a stand on the burning issues of concern to our sector,» the unions appealed to all seamen to join a 24-hour strike today called by the Communist Party-affiliated labor union PAME. Protests by PAME supporters last month resulted in dozens of passenger ferries remaining docked at the country’s main port of Piraeus, frustrating the holiday plans of hundreds of tourists. Representatives of shipping firms serving sea routes between Piraeus and the Aegean islands said yesterday that scheduled connections would not be disrupted as their crew members had said they would not join the action. According to sources, some of these firms have appealed to the Citizens’ Protection Ministry, which oversees the police, to «take whatever action necessary against demonstrators if they try to obstruct the movement of ferries.» In a written statement, one of the firms, Minoan Lines, said that two routes between Piraeus and the Cretan port of Iraklio would be canceled because of the strike. The Attica Group and Hellenic Seaways said its routes would be affected. In a related development, the Piraeus Port Authority warned that nine decommissioned passenger ferries that have been moored at Piraeus for the past 10 months pose a risk to other ferries coming in to dock and should be removed.