OPINION

On striking cabbies

Cabbies protest in Athens

This wasn?t in fact an Athens protest, it was a deliberate act by the drivers and their union to disrupt our tourist industry. They had no thought whatsoever for the difficulties facing all of us, and this action was aimed at the one source of income that Greece has, which we all hope can enable us in the future to escape our present predicament. If this government is serious, and wants to introduce the measures which to comply with EU and IMF requirements, it must toughen up. They knew yesterday that it was the intention of the taxis to close entrances to the airport and the port; why then didn?t they inform the unions concerned that legal action would be taken? Then impound the first taxis that blocked the entrance and fine the respective drivers. Instead they wait until the damage is done, tourists miss flights, have to drag their luggage in this heat across busy roads and the world media again can have a field day. This is not democracy, this is not how responsible citizens behave, and most Athenians are sick of our taxi drivers anyway. We are cheated with change, many drivers don?t even know the fastest routes to destinations as there is no testing, they crawl along looking for other fares then take you off your route to drop off other people. Many of us have noticed over the past 12 months, that their whole attitude has become belligerent, as if their passengers are to blame. What they should do is introduce this law immediately, then there will be taxi drivers that want to work and the rest can stay home.

Ann Baker

Cabbies destroy tourism

The act of the owners of taxis, who have enjoyed a cartel in their industry, to block the income of other tourism industry participants in the middle of the season reeks of selfishness and a lack of understanding of the current dire situation face by most businesses.

The Athens taxi industry has earned a disgraceful reputation through very poor customer service, regularly overcharging customers, particularly tourists, unclean and poorly serviced cabs, smoking drivers and a general disrespect for clients.

Now they participate in an act of disrupting traffic and customer movement, like a spoilt child.

Get your industry standards up, improve your quality of service and maybe you will survive competition like we in the other sectors do daily.

Nick Geronimos

PS whenever there is a ?strike? the traffic flows better. Maybe the drivers should also be given driving lessons and comply with the road laws.

Thousands of cabbies protest in Athens

Isn?t it high time that a little bit of healthy competition was injected into the Greek economy?

The attitude by those who already have licenses in the so-called ?closed professions? is a bit unreasonable.

If the government, in its effort to create income, liberalizes the issuance of permits for taxi ownership, the new applicants will only obtain them if there is a chance to make a living.

Like the current taxi owners who got loans to buy the vehicles they use as livery, the new ones have to have the means or the ability to obtain a loan to buy a vehicle. I highly doubt it that in this environment there will be thousands of new taxis in the streets of Athens competing with the existing ones any time soon.

Even if we assume everyone who feels like driving 10 hours in traffic every day taking passengers from point A to point B has the ready cash to buy the taxi and obtain the license, who will suffer?

The streets cannot get more clogged than they now are, the people who stand in the middle of the streets trying to stop a taxi to go wherever they try to get to will have more chances and the tourists who would still dare to show up at our airports and shores will be assured that they will go to their hotels without having to carry their suitcases in and out of buses and metros.

If we can only imagine the inconvenience these tourists will have to go through today and tomorrow. How many times they relay their troubles to others who may have thought that a holiday in Greece is a lovely way to spend their vacations.

Perhaps the government will not change its mind, perhaps some taxi drivers need the income and will go back to work earlier, perhaps everyone will dig their heels in and we will slide even deeper into a recession that will take us decades to recover from.

Monica Lane

Seamen to meet to decide on action

Oh lovely!

There we go! No taxis to make it from the airport to the centre and no ferries to take us to the islands… This promises to be a holiday to remember!

As we are all getting ready to arrive in Greece in a few days, we begin wondering if this is going to be the time we need to walk a bit more and learn how to swim long distances!

Instead of strikes, which do not inconvenience the politicians one bit, why don?t these workers who expect to collect what was promised to them look for those who looted the funds and left the country bankrupt? The secret is out. We bought things we could neither afford nor needed and the coffers are empty. We go to outsiders every so often, hat in hand, looking for loans we cannot afford to repay.

The politicians who ?served? this country and left with their bank accounts full do not travel on scheduled ferries. They have their own yachts. They are not looking for taxis, they have chauffeur-driven limousines. The looters are not suffering, the average citizen and tourist is.

The looters do not have any conscience and have even less regard for what the average Greek goes through to survive.

The people who strike are wasting their time. Instead they should demand accountability from the current administration and MPs for their actions and their predecessors.

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What are you doing?

All Greece has is tourism and with all the strikes and shutdowns, nobody is going to want to visit your country. It saddens me to see what was once the greatest country in the world turn into some ?third world? backwater.

Economically, Greece is mostly only relevant to the EU. Here in the West, nobody really cares. But as for the US tourists going to Greece, the numbers are down dramatically. We don?t want to go where services are unreliable.

It?s up to you.

John Sherman

Re: AEK signs former Barcelona star Eidur Gudjohnsen

According to reports, the deal is worth 1.3 million euros ($1.84 million) over two years. Obviously no crisis in the world of football in Greece!

Jean Meakin

No ceiling on taxi licenses? Absolute madness

Minister Ragousis is being completely illogical by insisting on his stance of having no limit on taxi licenses. Taxi deregulation wherever it has been tried has turned out to be a dismal failure, both for the traveling public and the industries concerned.

Taxi drivers may need improvements but not assassination.

Minister, learn from examples around you and do not listen to economic armchair theorists.

It is a unique industry that needs a balanced approach (not a sledgehammer) to meet the needs of all. The minister should sit down with the taxi drivers and thrash out a compromise that is beneficial to the public and the profession in the long run.

Kon Fourtounis

Australia

Re: ?All hail the taxi: In defense of Athenian cabbies?

Reform is long overdue.

At Athens airport, there are hundreds of taxis lined up for hours because the ?flat fare? is prohibitively expensive.

In Mykonos there are only 30 taxis for the entire island and in the summer it is almost impossible to travel to and from the airport.

But things are not all bad. On Syros taxis are plentiful and the cabbies are friendly and honest. Significantly, Syros cabbies weren?t on strike yesterday. They know better than to disrupt the lifeblood of tourism.

David Hawkins

Syros

Striking taxis

As a frequent visitor to Greece, strikes are not uncommon to me.

But at what point do the strikers infringe on the rights of others and when are arrests of the strikers ever made to keep them from infringing on the rights of people who want to go about their business unhindered?

Do we as tourists have rights or just the strikers?

Lary Fian

Re: ?In defense of Athenian cabbies?

And so we see, sadly again, that the real problem in Greece is a slapdash, cowboy, arbitrary style of governance that leaves Greeks (in this case taxi drivers) looking on in amazement. In any mature professional government, no minister would seemingly whimsically undo the policies of his predecessor like that. With no consultation. No explanation. No reason. I?m glad I no longer live in Greece. It?s frustrating to watch, even from afar.

And further it demonstrates the pitiful weakness of Papandreau. There seems to be no discipline in his cabinet.

Nick Kanellos