OPINION

Insensitive to the common good

The right to strike is protected by the constitution. Hence the question with the seamen’s strike is not whether they have a right to strike. The question, rather, is whether the demands put forward by the Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO) are clear, reasonable and urgent enough to justify the tension and actual damage caused by their inflexible stance. The strike has stranded thousands of trucks at ports around Greece and isolated hundreds of islands, many of which do not have airports. The conservative government seems determined not to meet their economic demands, citing budget restrictions. Seamen, who still enjoy certain privileges compared to other labor groups (such as a lower tax rate) are engaging in a display of force toward the government. Their campaign is being spearheaded by Greece’s Communist Party (KKE). It seems that the more KKE’s power shrinks, the more its members insist on creating artificial tension in the sectors where they happen to control part of the unions. Despite attempts to disguise their motives, the political expediency involved is hard to hide. Equally clear is the economic damage inflicted on hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens by the inflexibility of PNO unionists. The federation has in the past few days drawn strength from the obsolete reservoirs of the communist left. For how long and on the basis of what political morality can a small minority go on creating problems and openly provoking the rest of society? The ship strike has created food and supply headaches across the country but the government should keep a steady course. After all, the conservative administration has the backing of the vast majority of the Greek population. Yesterday it became clear that the opportunistic, old-style tactics of the communist left will hardly find any sympathetic ears among the country’s unions at large.