Foiled metro staff consider action

Employees of the Athens metro system have threatened to stage new strike action to protest the nonrenewal of dozens of their colleagues’ short-term contracts, after their plan to hold a five-hour work stoppage yesterday was foiled by a last-minute court decision. The public transport workers had announced on Tuesday afternoon that they would not work between 5 and 10 a.m. the following day. However, a court decided shortly after midnight that the action was illegal. By then, of course, many commuters were not in any position to learn of the change and used other modes of transport anyway. To complicate the matter further, despite the court order, some workers failed to turn up before 7.30 a.m., claiming that their union, SELMA, had not informed them the work stoppage had been called off. As a result, even though the work stoppage did not take place, the metro system did not function properly until about 8 a.m. The workers are protesting the refusal by AMEL, the metro operator, to renew the contracts of 286 employees whose agreements expired over the last few months. They are among 326 workers identified by General Inspector for Public Administration Leandros Rakintzis as having been questionable hirings between 2004 and 2009. Rakintzis found that those hired had some common characteristics, such as coming from the same part of Greece and having worked at similar posts in the civil service before being hired by AMEL. In some cases, the candidates were hired before they had even sent a CV to the company. However, SELMA says that a court has challenged the company’s decision not to extend the contract of one of the 286 employees and the union is determined to press ahead with its protests until the worker is reinstated. The court has ruled that AMEL should take the employee back until a final decision is delivered. Meanwhile, workers on all forms of public transport in Athens are due to meet on August 20 to decide whether they should take any combined action.