No letup in truck strike

There seemed no hope yesterday of an imminent breakthrough in the standoff between the government and thousands of striking truck drivers over the liberalization of the road haulage sector, which has led to gas stations around Greece running out of fuel. The Transport Ministry showed no signs of giving in to pressure from the truck drivers, whose main objection is the government’s plan to allow anyone who wants to enter their sector to be able to do so for virtually no charge as of 2013. Truckers say that because they operate in a closed profession, they have paid thousands of euros for their licenses, which will be worthless when the sector is liberalized. Hundreds of trucks remained parked yesterday at the sides of national and country roads as well as outside oil refineries. The impact of the strike became evident in most parts of Greece, as few gas stations had any fuel to sell to drivers and traders warned that there would soon be a shortage of fresh produce if the action continues. Drivers formed queues of 30 to 40 cars at the few gas stations in Athens that still had fuel. It is estimated that only two in 10 were in a position to fill up customers’ tanks. In Thessaloniki, 70 percent of stations reported that they had completely run out of gasoline. In Halkidiki, where some 100,000 tourists are currently on vacation, there was no fuel available at all. The shortages prompted the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) to warn of the damaging impact that the strike is having on the tourism sector. There are concerns that prospective visitors from neighboring Balkan countries who were planning to use their cars to come to Greece will cancel their trips. It is expected that private coaches carrying tourists already in the country to various destinations will start to run out of fuel from tomorrow. KTEL intercity buses are thought to have enough fuel to last them until next week. Athens’s central fruit and vegetable market, from where many of the city’s grocers get their produce, is expected to experience shortages as of tomorrow. «Business usually picks up a lot on Thursdays and it is clear that we will experience problems with supplies,» said Yiannis Sideris, one of the market traders.

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