NEWS

Truckers extend protest action

Protesting truck drivers kept their vehicles parked alongside major highways in Athens and other cities for a third day yesterday after union representatives told a parliamentary committee that draft legislation foreseeing the liberalization of their sector would be catastrophic for thousands of workers and their families. A delegation of unionists arrived in Athens early yesterday to join a debate in Parliament on the bill for opening up freight transport. Fears that protesters might try to drive their trucks into central Athens to highlight their grievances, as they attempted to do on Monday before being blocked by police, were not realized. But hundreds of truckers kept their vehicles parked alongside major highways, extending their work stoppage in protest at the reforms which, they say, will devalue their operating licenses. In Athens, unionists stressed that the revocation of the reforms was a matter of survival for truckers. «The issue is not whether or not this draft bill will be approved but whether or not thousands of families will be destroyed,» remarked Giorgos Tzortzatos, the head of the country’s truck drivers’ union. In a related development yesterday, the government revoked its decision to set a price ceiling for fuel – 1.47 euros per liter for unleaded gasoline – after gas station managers threatened to strike in protest at the decision. The ceiling was imposed on Monday after a rush for fuel by motorists sparked widespread profiteering at gas stations. The motorists had sought to fill up on gasoline in case supplies run dry, as they did in July when extended strike action by truckers froze deliveries of fuel and other goods.