NEWS

Truckers hint at compromise deal

Unionists representing truck owners, whose extended work stoppage has hurt trade for nearly three weeks, appeared ready to reach a compromise last night after a draft law that would see persistent offenders stripped of their licenses or jailed was voted through Parliament. The truck owners sat down for talks yesterday evening with Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis a few hours after the hastily drafted legislation was voted through Parliament, with 53 ballots in favor and 46 against, despite objections by opposition parties. After the meeting, the head of the main truck owners’ union, Giorgos Tzortzatos, indicated late last night that there was some scope for a compromise to be reached. «When the intentions are good, then meetings are brief and fruitful,» Tzortzatos told reporters, without elaborating on whether any commitments had been made by either side during the talks. Chrysochoidis himself made no public comments about the outcome of the discussion. The heads of the country’s nine main unions representing truck owners were expected to convene late last night to discuss their next move. Meanwhile long lines of trucks remained parked alongside major highways outside Athens, Thessaloniki and Patra, disrupting traffic. Earlier in the day, as the new law was being voted on in Parliament, several high-ranking members of the government condemned the truck drivers for their intransigence, has resulted in millions of euros in lost business for traders. Prime Minister George Papandreou referred to «vested interests behind the affair with the truck drivers.» Economy Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou claimed the truck drivers’ strike was being «politically manipulated» and called on the Communist Party (KKE) to realize that the truckers’ extended action is causing serious damage to an economy that is already under great strain. Papaconstantinou also criticized opposition parties for »telling the strikers what they want to hear at a difficult moment for the country as the government does all it can to maintain law and order.»