NEWS

Truckers asked to break for a week

Truck owners are due to meet today to decide whether to heed the requests of businesses to suspend their strike for a week so that goods can be supplied to stores, which are running out of some products. Traders and truckers met yesterday to discuss the impact of the strike, which is entering its third week and has seen hundreds of trucks that are used to transport goods for third parties parked along the side of various sections of national roads around the country. Vassilis Korkidis, the head of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce, told Skai radio that he was hopeful that the truck owners would take on board the problems that their action is causing in the market. It is estimated that there are some 10,000 containers stacked up at Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports. However, Korkidis indicated that the only way they might back down is if Prime Minister George Papandreou meets with them and agrees to suspend the passing of a law that liberalizes their sector for six months. The government has so far stood firm on the opening up of the road haulage sector, which until now had been limited to those possessing licenses that were last issued in the mid-1980s. PASOK has made some tax and pension concessions to the truckers and after amendments made to the law, passed through Parliament last week, some owners will be more than 2,000 euros a year better off when they retire. However, the truck owners insist that the government should pay more attention to their concerns. «We will continue with purpose,» said the president of the Confederation of Greek Truck Drivers, Giorgos Tzortzatos. «We want the state to look at our problem seriously.»