Greek Truck Drivers Vote to Continue Strike, Defying Government's Orders
Greek truck drivers voted to defy a government order and continue their five-day strike, which has caused nationwide fuel shortages, after talks with Transport Ministry officials ended in deadlock.
“We are continuing with the strike,” George Tzortzatos, president of the Truck Owners Confederation, said in comments carried live today on state-run NET TV in Athens. “We didn’t come here to mourn our licenses.”
Prime Minister George Papandreou ordered truckers to return to work on July 28, given the “serious upheaval” to Greece’s social and economic life in the middle of the key summer tourism season. Authorities yesterday began serving papers requesting truck owners to resume work or face penalties, including the seizure of licenses or vehicles.
About 33,000 truckers, including tanker owners, are protesting government plans to open up the freight industry and issue new licenses. The changes are a requirement of a 110 billion-euro ($143 billion) loan package from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Papandreou said yesterday that the government would move ahead with plans to open up professions such as trucking that are bound by rules which prevent new entrants and drive up prices. The government backs the plans because they will boost growth potential, not because they’re part of the terms in the loan package, he said.
Other professions to be revamped include civil engineers, public notaries and pharmacists. No new licenses for trucking have been issued since the early 1970s, according to the Transport Ministry, which has driven up the price of acquiring an existing license.
Truck owners and drivers “are giving their all not to lose their property,” Tzortzatos said.
Bloomberg moderates all comments. Comments that are abusive or off-topic will not be posted to the site. Excessively long comments may be moderated as well. Bloomberg cannot facilitate requests to remove comments or explain individual moderation decisions.