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No taxis in Greece again next week

08 September 2011 / 15:09:55  GRReporter
3554 reads

Victoria Mindova

Once again, there will be no taxis in Greece in the middle of September this year as the owners of licenses stated they would not approve the new government law on the liberalization of their occupation. The general meeting of the Union of Taxi Owners decided to go on 48-hour strikes until the PASOK government gives up its plans to offer cheaper taxi licenses without regional and other restrictions. Due to the reduced value of taxi licenses, the government announced it would reduce taxi fees by 10%. Moreover, the unemployed will have the advantage to obtain new licensees at discounted prices.

"What is this to give licenses on social criteria for unemployed? This is not possible. There will be taxis everywhere," said an outraged striker against the new measures. He is a longtime taxi owners and believes that the state is willing to push him from the market. The old owners will not have to pay new fee for their licenses and those who have half a license, i.e. who are co-owners of the taxi with another colleague, will receive the other half of the license free.

Taxi owners are adamant that there is no longer enough work for everyone and the free licenses will take their bread. "We will not allow corporate interests to take our bread," taxi drivers insisted. According to a widespread opinion among taxi owners, the taxi market liberalization will change the market and large corporations will take over the occupation.

The government's plan focuses on the service streamlining. By the end of the year, the new licenses will introduce new standards and cars with lower fuel consumption and significantly lower rate of harmful gases emissions into the atmosphere will carry out the taxi services. They will have video screens for the rear seats and will provide free wireless internet. Moreover, the price of licenses will drop significantly - between € 10,000 and € 40,000. Until recently, a taxi license cost between € 90,000 and € 120,000 and the sale took place between private persons without any legal obligation to register the transfer. In this way, the licenses had speculatively high prices due to their limited number and the state was not losing revenue.

With the new law, after the taxi driver retires, the license will be returned to the state in order to avoid selling it on the black market. Another novelty is that there will be taxis with nine seats, which will be allowed to transport more people. This measure is particularly unpopular for the old taxi drivers in Greece who are now entitled to take more than one passenger per course (like a bus) and each passenger is serviced at a separate tariff but the taxi driver is not able to issue individual receipts for the different passengers.

The public approves the law on the liberalization of the taxi driver occupation, taking into account the new facilities in taxis and their adjustment to friendlier environment criteria. However, the sector unionists are determined that they will not leave things to the government’s mercy. Their position is even stronger after the statements of the leader of the rightwing opposition New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, who said that the PASOK plan for taxis was unjust and strongly neoliberal to the Greek reality. Samaras promised that when New Democracy takes the power it would abolish the law.

Meanwhile, the rumours of early elections after the Thessaloniki International Fair this weekend intensified and many Greek analysts perceive Samaras’ position as a canvass for votes. Taxi owners are on general 24-hour strike today, Thursday, September 8 and have another scheduled for Saturday, September 10, when taxi drivers from all over Greece will gather in Thessaloniki to hold a protest march to the area of the ​​international fair. The Greek trade unions of the private and public sector employees, the trade union organization of the Greek Communist Party, the students, the movement of discontented and even anarchists will gather there to protest. An exciting weekend in Thessaloniki is coming this week.


Tags: SocietyMarketsStrikesTaxisProtestsInternational fairThessaloniki
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