NEWS

Railway workers to keep up action

Passengers intending to travel by rail today face a second consecutive day of frustration as workers of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) are planning to continue their protests against the government’s plans to privatize the debt-ridden firm even though they seem to be having no impact. Trains, as well as other forms of public transport, were halted for five hours yesterday when workers in other sectors walked off the job in sympathy with the OSE employees but today only the railway workers will stay away from work, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. The stoppage will also halt services on the Proastiakos suburban railway and this means there will be no metro between Doukissis Plakentias station and Athens International Airport. There was no indication from the government yesterday that it has any intention of changing its plan to submit a bill to Parliament next month that aims to streamline OSE. The draft law proposes the pensioning off or transfer of some 2,400 employees in a bid to cut costs, the absorption of the company’s debt by the state and the sale of up to 49 percent of the firm to private investors. OSE workers met with Finance Minister Giorgos Papconstantinou yesterday, when he made it clear that they have to be prepared to say goodbye to the benefits and wages they had become accustomed to if the company is going to survive. The workers responded by saying they would intensify protests. Meanwhile, truckers also took to the streets of Athens yesterday, blocking the city center with their vehicles. They were protesting the submission to Parliament yesterday of a bill that will liberalize their sector gradually over the next three years.