Transport staff walk out over bill

Public transportworkers staged a 24-hour walkout yesterday to protest draft legislation slashing salaries and transferring hundreds of employees to other state sector jobs which was due to be voted through Parliament late last night. The action choked the streets of the capital with traffic, as Athenians who usually rely on public transport took to their cars, and acted as a prelude to today’s general strike. The 24-hour strike today, called by the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) and the civil servants’ union (ADEDY), will ground flights, keep ferries in ports, halt train services and shut down government offices, hospitals and schools. But public transport will operate for most of the day to enable protesters to join two demonstrations in the city center – the GSEE-ADEDY rally beginning at Pedion tou Areos at 11 a.m. and another protest organized by Communist-affiliated labor union PAME in Omonia Square at the same time. Buses and trolley buses are to operate from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., the Piraeus-Kifissia urban electric railway (ISAP) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the tram from 6 a.m. to midnight. Taxi drivers are to join the action with a four-hour work stoppage beginning at 10 a.m. Transport workers are to crank up their action again tomorrow, staging a fresh 24-hour walkout to protest reforms streamlining loss-making public transport companies. These reforms foresee a 10 percent reduction of all wages in excess of 1,800 euros and the transfer to other positions in the civil service of 1,500 workers. Despite vehement criticism by opposition politicians, and by certain ruling PASOK deputies, the bill streamlining public transport companies is expected to be approved as the government retains a comfortable majority in Parliament.

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