Pressure on striking sailors growing

Rolling 48-hour strikes by seamen prompted the government on Saturday to say that it would intervene unless the action, which has enraged farmers on Crete unable to transport their produce and hampered thousands of travelers, is brought to an end. On Saturday, the Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO) called a new 48-hour strike, thereby extending to seven the number of days that sailors had not been to work. The seamen are demanding a new collective contract and job security. The extension of their protest drew criticism from the government, which for the first time since the strikes began threatened to take action, without detailing whether it intended to force the sailors back to work by issuing a civil mobilization order. «The government strongly disagrees with any attempts to abuse labor rights,» said Maritime Affairs Minister Yiannis Diamantidis. «We want to protect workers’ rights but we also want to protect public interest and the national economy. «The government will protect society responsibly and decisively with effective intervention wherever and whenever is needed.» The latest strike is due to end at 6 a.m. tomorrow but PNO is due to meet again then to discuss whether it should take further action, unless employers show a willingness to agree on a new collective contract. The strike has caused tension on Crete, where farmers have clashed with seamen as they have been unable to get their fruit and vegetables to the mainland. The two sides came to a compromise on Saturday and three vessels set sail from Crete for Piraeus carrying local produce. The ships arrived at their destination yesterday but PNO said that it would not allow any more vessels to sail until the strike was over.