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Uncertainty about the transport strike in the capital

28 January 2013 / 17:01:39  GRReporter
2154 reads

Victoria Mindova

The duration of the strike has split the two main trade unions that protect the rights of bus and trolley bus workers. After the strike of the underground workers was declared illegal and they were forced to return to work through civil mobilization, the people employed on the bus and trolley bus lines have also started to protest.

The union of the technical staff in trolley bus transport called off the strike whereas the trade union of drivers decided not to follow their example on Monday, 28 January. "We are not supporters of extreme measures but we want a dialogue with the government as regards the upcoming changes," said at a press conference the president of the drivers’ trade union Leonidas Skoulos.

Bus and trolley bus drivers are on strike in solidarity with their colleagues from the underground, who are opposing the introduction of the single payroll table.

Unlike the underground workers, the drivers of public ground transport declare themselves in favour of more moderate actions. They are not against the introduction of the single payroll table for the payment of salaries in the public sector, but they insist on keeping the collective labour agreements.

"The collective labour agreements establish the characteristic features of our profession associated with the level of complexity of the professional group," the chief secretary of the union Kostas Siroikis told GRReporter. He is clear that their trade union will not go to extremes and it will not stop the public transport for weeks, as their other colleagues have done, but Athens will remain without buses and trolley buses on Monday and maybe on Tuesday.

Their goal is to drive the Ministry of Economy and Transport to sit at the table of negotiations with them to clarify some specifics about the formation of the wages in various categories in their profession. According to the trade unions, the single payroll table introduces confusion in the method of calculating the wages of specialized staff and these errors need to be clarified before the introduction of the table.

Skoulos insists that the claim that public sector employees have not been bearing the burden of the crisis as the private sector workers have been doing is not right. "In 2009, the drivers in public transport and in bus and trolley bus companies in particular numbered about 6,500. Their number is now 4,700 with salaries reduced by around 50% on average," said the trade unionist adding that serious cuts have been made in their sector as in other sectors of the economy.

"Public transport is a public service; transportation of citizens is a serious responsibility. We do not want irrational things, we want a dialogue with the government in order to reach a common solution that will be right for both parties," said the trade unionists in a conversation.

Although the technical staff of trolley bus transport had supported the 24-hour strike of public transport workers at first, they withdrew their protests in the late hours on Monday. The drivers, however, have not retreated. The 17 transport trade union organizations in the capital will gather at a general meeting at 10 am on Tuesday to take a joint decision on their future actions. According to Leonidas Skoulos, there are alternative ways of protest in addition to repetitive strikes, which he was not inclined to explain in detail.

Meanwhile, the Greek capital remains without buses, trolley buses and district trains. The underground and the electric train are serving the Piraeus-Kifissia line. The underground is not going to Athens airport "Eleftheros Venizelos" and the only way to get there is by taking a taxi from the last underground station in its direction "Doukissis Plakentias."


Tags: SocietyStrikesBlockadesCrisisPublic transportBusesTrolley buses
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