Transport strikes to ease this week

Public transport workers yesterday partially backed down from their stringent opposition to the government’s economic reforms, calling off almost all their protest action for Christmas Eve and making more modes of transport available tomorrow. Their decision, however, does not affect today’s 24-hour strike, which means that there will be no metro, tram, buses, trolley buses, electric railway, Proastiakos suburban railway or Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) trains in operation. As a result, some 2.3 million Athenians who use public transport every day will have to find other ways to get to work. Traffic is expected to be very heavy. The transport workers have decided to call off the work stoppages at peak hours tomorrow and will instead hold shorter protest action at less inconvenient times. Buses will be running between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Metro, electric railway, tram and trolley bus services will be available between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. The strike planned for Friday has been called off. Instead, there will be a work stoppage for bus drivers between noon and 4 p.m. All other forms of public transport will be working normally. Store owners and businessmen had pleaded with the public servants to end their action, claiming that it was hurting trade as shoppers were not able to get around Athens. The unions involved in calling the strikes to protest wage cuts, personnel transfers and the possible privatization of some public transport firms did not make it clear why they have decided to soften their action. Earlier, Transport Ministry general secretary Haris Tsiokas said that the government was considering issuing the protesters with civil mobilization orders. He also revealed that the cost of tickets would be increasing by 35 to 40 percent next year.

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