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Port workers sign a new collective agreement

06 June 2013 / 18:06:16  GRReporter
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Port workers’ trade unions had decided to continue their protests against the owners of shipping companies who owe salaries to their crews. An article of To Vima newspaper states that the decision was taken at an extraordinary meeting of the executive committee of the Hellenic federation of port workers.

According to the same publication, they had decided to prevent the passenger ferry "Aqua Maria", owned by the company NEL Lines, from departing today. The ferry departs from the port of Lavrio and sails to the islands of Kea, Kythnos, Syros, Tinos and Andros.

According to the Athens News Agency, the ship sailed on time after a company representative assured the protesters that the salaries to November 2012 had been paid into the bank accounts of the workers and that the rest would be paid by the end of June.

It also became clear that the management board of the federation had signed a new collective agreement with the members of the association of passenger shipping companies. It does not provide for any wage increases and is valid until the end of the year. Ship owners had also agreed to continue paying in full the allowances to the crews of the ferries that serve unprofitable destinations.

However, four trade unions of workers in the sector had left the meeting, arguing that the specific allowance should be reduced by 75%. Those were the Hellenic Association of Engineers in the Merchant Navy, the Hellenic Union of Unskilled Engine Room Crews, the Hellenic Union of Merchant Marine Cooks and the Hellenic Union of Merchant Marine Seamen.

At the same time, sources say that ship owners had requested a deferral until the end of June for the payment of outstanding wages. So far, it is unclear whether this request has been accepted.

Yesterday, protesting trade unionists thwarted the departure of two ships, the crew of which have not received salaries for months. In another case, the workers rushed into the "Mitilini" ship, which led to clashes.

A prosecutor had appeared at the scene who, according to trade unionists, threatened them with arrests as they have been in a state of "civil mobilization" since February. However, port workers had remained firm.

They allowed the ship to depart to the islands of Syros, Samos and Ikaria, but behind schedule, only after they received assurances from the shipping company that it would pay the outstanding salaries by 20 June.  

The "Vitsentsos Kornaros" and "Agios Georgios" ships, however, remained at the port of Piraeus, as the companies that own them had failed to convince the trade unionists that they would pay the money.

There were disputes between the passengers and members of the workers' trade unions at the first ship. A passenger tried to break with his car the chain, which they had formed with their bodies, but the intervention of some of his calmer companions prevented the occurrence of more dramatic events. The ship should have departed for the islands of Kythira, Kissamos and Antikithira at 2:00 pm.

The protesters thwarted the departure of the "Agios Georgios" ship, which sails to Kythnos, Serifos, Sifnos, Milos, Folegandros, Sikinos, Ios and Thira (Santorini). Hundreds of passengers and dozens of cars and trucks were waiting in vain at the pier to leave.

To Vima newspaper states that the shipping companies were issuing tickets to the passengers yesterday although they were aware of the protests. The passengers of the two "flying dolphins", which departed to the islands in the Argosaronikos bay, albeit belatedly, had received from the trade unionists notes, reading, "Maritime workers who will transport you safely to your destination have not been paid for months. The working conditions of maritime workers greatly determine the safety of passengers and shipping."

Late last night, the Hellenic federation of port workers issued a communication in which it accused the authorities and employers in an attempt to "break the fighting spirit of the workers who, along with their families, are in a tragic situation, because they have not received their salaries for many months and cannot meet their financial obligations."

The unionists’ position was supported by the radical left SYRIZA party, which accuses the government of terrorizing port workers.

Tags: SocietyCollective labour agreementShipping companiesBlockadeTrade unionistsPort workersShips
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