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Farmers Protest, Seamen's Strike Vexes Greece

ferry strikeHaving crushed a Metro workers strike with riot police, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is treading a more careful line with protesting farmers and seamen who walked off the job and may extend their job action.
The farmers, upset over tax policies and demanding subsidies for failed crops, kept their tractors at key points along national highways but remained peaceful and stopped short of blocking roads as the seamen were considering on Feb. 2 whether to continue their two-day strike. The largest gathering of farmers was at the Nikaia junction on the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway, where more than 1,200 tractors remained parked.
The newspaper Kathimerini said that the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is wary over the unrelenting farmers who are being backed by the Communist party (KKE) and the main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA.) KKE leader Aleka Papariga expressed solidarity with the seamen, who object to government plans to overhaul coastal shipping regulations for fear of job cuts. Noting that thousands of dockworkers face losing their jobs, Papariga accused the government of only being interested in “ships that bring revenue to large hotel chains.”
Kathimerini said that government officials are hoping the seamen will also back off but did not rule out issuing a mobilization order, as was done with Metro workers. That means the workers would have to return to their jobs or face being arrested or fired. There are fears that workers in other sectors will stage their own industrial action in the countdown to a general strike called by the two main labor unions for Feb. 20.

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