Greece to Use Emergency Decree Order to Stop Athens Metro Strike

Greece’s government will invoke emergency powers to order striking public-transit workers in Athens back to work, Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said.

The city’s metro was shut for an eighth day today as workers continued a strike, declared illegal by a Greek court on Jan. 21, to protest changes that would align their pay structure with that of other public employees. Athens bus and light-rail workers also held work stoppages in the past week.

“Neither the government nor society can be held hostage by unionists,” Hatzidakis said in comments broadcast by state-run NET TV after a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. The government had no other option than to proceed with the decree after transit workers decided “repeatedly not to respect the absolutely clear decisions by the Greek justice system.”

Greece’s government has implemented budget cuts and economic reforms to tame a fiscal deficit that has led to bailouts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. These measures included terminating a deal with metro workers that had put them on a different pay scale than other public employees.

The striking transit workers earlier said they will suspend their labor action if the government allows the current agreement to run until April and begins negotiations for a new deal, Athens News Agency reported, without saying how it got the information.

Former Prime Minister George Papandreou’s government used emergency decrees to end strikes by seamen, truckers and garbage collectors in 2010 and 2011.

The Pan-Hellenic Seaman’s Union today decided to hold a 48- hour strike starting on Jan. 31 to protest government policies affecting its members. Seperately, the union expressed support for the striking transit workers in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marcus Bensasson in Athens at mbensasson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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