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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-07-30

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government enlists armed forces to break truck strike

  • [01] Government enlists armed forces to break truck strike

    The government on Friday announced a tough crackdown on striking truck owners that have voted to defy a civil mobilisation order and continue their strike. Among a series of measures announced by the appropriate ministerial committee was a decision to enlist the aid of the armed forces to transport fuel supplies.

    The government also slammed the truckers' refusal to comply with the civil mobilisation order as "a grievous insult to law and order that harms society as a whole".

    Apart from requisitioning the privately-owned tanker trucks, the armed forces are ordered to use their own vehicles to ensure the supply of fuel to crucial sectors such as airports, power plants and hospitals while the Greek Navy is to assist, if necessary, in carrying tanker trucks to the islands.

    In the meantime, the details of those defying the civil mobilisation order will be sent on to public prosecutors so that they might be charged, while the penalties foreseen under the law - including revoking the offender's licence - will be immediately enforceable.

    Truck owners voted to continue their strike in a meeting on Friday afternoon after talks with the government ended in deadlock, defying a civil mobilisation ordering them back to work. The strike, which includes owners of tanker trucks that transport fuels, has literally starved the country of fuel.

    In a stormy general meeting at the Peroke Theatre, the truckers opted to escalate the dispute with the government in spite of the disruption to the country and the economy as a whole.

    The meeting started with a one-hour delay and the truckers' union president Georgios Tzortzatos briefed the members on the talks with Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas the day before.

    Other voices in the meeting, especially from tanker truck owners, called for a more militant stance, however, and these eventually carried the day. A vote in favour of continuing to strike was taken after roughly three hours of debate and not by secret ballot but by a show of hands.

    In statements after the meeting Tzortzatos stressed that truck owners were not prepared to give up their licences and were determined to defend their rights. After their meeting, the truck owners marched in the centre of Athens to Parliament and presented a resolution with their demands and the decisions taken at their meeting.

    The government, meanwhile, has warned truck owners through the ministers involved and the government spokesman that it will enforce the law and continue to requisition both the vehicles and the civil mobilisation of their owners. Government officials stressed that no professional group had the right to make the whole of society and the country hostage to its demands.

    Problems in the mainland markets were less pronounced on Friday, as the tanker trucks and vehicles owned by oil companies have been working incessantly over the past 24 hours after picketing by strikers stopped, ensuring a better supply of fuel to petrol stations. Added to these will be the requisitioned vehicles, the first of which started to appear at Thessaloniki refineries on Friday.

    The situation was more serious on several Greek islands, however, where petrol stations ran out of fuel two days ago and shortages in other goods, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, are starting to appear.

    The civil mobilisation orders to individual truck owners were also starting to be delivered in large numbers from the afternoon - 48 hours after the decision was announced by the government - with police estimating that the process of serving the papers will be completed by Monday.

    In order to facilitate the restocking of the market with fuel, in particular, Reppas on Friday signed a decision that temporarily lifts a ban on the use of national highways by fuel tanker trucks making deliveries between Friday and Sunday.

    The truck owners are protesting against a bill unveiled by the infrastructure and transport ministry that seeks to open up the road freight market - currently only served by government-licensed "public use" vehicles. The last government licences for truck owners were issued in the 1970s and opening up this market is among Greece's obligations to the EU.


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