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Transport Disruption in Greece as Unions Strike Over New Labor Bill

Strike labor bill Greece
Trade Unions hold a rally in downtown Athens protesting against the new labor bill. Credit: AMNA

Trade unions in Greece called for a strike on Thursday to protest a new labor bill presented by the government which, they say, will jeopardize the eight-hour workday.

Unions say they are “determined to resist to the government’s plans for the return to medieval working conditions” and state that they will fight to defend the public and social character of public transport.

A rally was held in Syntagma Square, in front of the Parliament building, against the proposed changes. Thousands of people joined the demonstration, among them the Panhellenic Musicians Association, which marched with its band.

Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras said that “This is a battle we will fight to the end.”

“The Mitsotakis government is attempting to take advantage of the pandemic to impose the most anti-popular and reactiοnary measures ever introduced by any Greek government against the working people, the abolition of the eight-hour working day. It takes us back to very very old times,” he added.

As a result of the strike, there are no metro, tram or trolley services in the Greek capital, as public transport employees have joined the 24-hour strike declared by the civil servants’ union ADEDY and the Athens Labor Union.

The metro line 1, 2 and 3, trolleys and trams will not operate throughout the day. Buses are expected to operate normally, but individual drivers might decide to join the strike, leading to fewer services.

Strike disrupts flights, ferries in Greece

Disruptions are also expected in flights, due to a four-hour work stoppage declared by air traffic controllers between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Four international and 14 domestic flights of Aegean and Olympic Air have been canceled, while the departure and arrival times of another nine international and 20 domestic flights have been modified.

Hospitals are working with emergency personnel as their staff has also joined the strike.

Ships will stay docked in all the country’s ports on May 6, the Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO) announced.

The seamen’s union also called for the protection of collective labor agreements and current working hours in the sector, among other issues.

This is the second strike in Greece this week. On Tuesday, many public transport employees took part in a general strike called by the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) for the celebration of Labor Day.

Last year, Labor Day was marked with parades — although they used social distancing to help avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

Greek trade unionists marked Labor Day 2020 with a rally in central Athens but were careful to keep a safe distance from each other, according to the guidelines instituted to fight the coronavirus epidemic.

Rally organizers gathered around Syntagma Square before the rallies to place road markings pointing to the correct distances that protesters should keep between one another.

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