NEWS

Truckers stand firm ahead of reform vote

Truck drivers protesting plans to liberalize their sector hardened their stance over the weekend, saying they would keep their vehicles parked along key sections of the national road network unless the government stops the reforms from being voted through Parliament tomorrow. Meanwhile, reports emerged that some truck drivers who have not joined the work stoppage have been beaten up by colleagues leading the action. Unionists representing the truckers said they would scale up their action ahead of the scheduled submission in Parliament tomorrow of a draft bill that would open up their sector to competition. Truckers claim the reforms would wreck thousands of livelihoods. There were no reports of major problems with supplies of fuel and other goods by late last night but Vassilis Korkidis, president of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce, said that the first signs of shortages had started to appear. Meanwhile more than 800 trucks remained parked in long lines along key sections of the national road network on the outskirts of Athens for a seventh day. The longest blockades were at the junctions of Haidari and Elefsina, along with the Corinth toll gates. Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis did not rule out the possibility of the truckers facing prosecution for hampering public transport. He added that the police have been ordered to continue barring the truckers from entering central Athens. Fuel truck drivers, who up until late last night had not participated in the action in order to avert fuel shortages at gas stations, were reportedly considering joining the other truck drivers. If they do, motorists might face the same problems they did in late July, when an extended strike by truckers led gas stations to run out of fuel.