Services in Greece shut down as workers strike against price hikes

Greece
Wed, 9 Nov 2022 11:30 GMT
Public and some private sector workers walked off the job in Greece Wednesday during a 24-hour nationwide strike demanding higher wages to combat surging inflation, disrupting ground transport, flights and ferry services.
Services in Greece shut down as workers strike against price hikes

Public and some private sector workers walked off the job in Greece Wednesday during a 24-hour nationwide strike demanding higher wages to combat surging inflation, disrupting ground transport, flights and ferry services.

High energy prices and soaring living costs have triggered strikes and protests across Europe this month, including in Germany, France and Spain.

The nationwide walkout in Greece – the second this year called by private and public sector unions representing over 2.5 million workers – was expected to culminate in rallies outside parliament later on Wednesday.

Ferries remained tied up in port, severing connections to Greece's islands, while taxis in the Greek capital stayed off the streets. No buses or trolleys were running in Athens, while only one of the three subway lines was operational, running a limited service until the afternoon.

Flight traffic controllers had been due to participate in the strike with a six-hour work stoppage but had to reverse that decision late Tuesday after a court deemed their participation illegal. However, airlines had already canceled dozens of flights, which they were unable to reschedule at the last minute.

Passengers arriving at Athens' international airport found themselves with extremely limited options to get into town, as neither buses, regular taxis, the subway nor the suburban railway was running.

Crowds gathered at car rental agencies at the airport, while others tried to leave on intercity buses which were the only form of public transport still running.

State-run schools were shut, while public hospitals were running with reduced staff and no news bulletins were running on private or state-run media as local journalists joined the strike.

While the Greek economy is growing at nearly twice the eurozone rate this year thanks to a rebound in tourism, inflation is near a three-decade peak at 12%, among the highest in the 19 countries sharing the euro.
"Workers... are battling against the inflation suffocating Greek households, the jungle-like conditions in the labor market, against the burdens they have been carrying on their backs for years," said GSEE, the main private sector union.

GSEE said it was "imperative" for the government to take measures to tackle inflation as the high cost of energy and basic goods was eating into people's disposable income.

Together with the public sector umbrella union ADEDY, it is demanding an increase in the minimum wage, which currently stands at around 713 euros ($717) per month, and the restoration of collective labor law.

The conservative government has spent over 9 billion euros since September 2021 on power subsidies and other measures to alleviate the burden of rising energy and fuel costs for farmers, households and businesses.

It has promised to increase pensions next year for the first time since the country's financial crisis and boost the minimum wage further.

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