Greece Gives Ultimatum to Striking Public Transit Workers

Greece’s government warned public transit workers in Athens who’ve been on a week-long strike that they must return to work tomorrow or face legal consequences.

The Athens metro was shut for a seventh day today as workers continued a strike, declared illegal by a Greek court on Jan. 21, to protest changes to their salary structures to bring them in line with other public employees. Athens bus and light-rail workers have also held work stoppages over the past week.

“The suffering of citizens and the disruption of the capital’s economic life can’t continue,” government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said in a statement today. “By tomorrow the leaders of this unacceptable situation have to comply with court orders, so legality can be restored. Otherwise they will face the legal consequences.”

Greece’s government has had to carry out a series of budget-cutting measures and economic reforms to tame a fiscal deficit that has led to bailouts from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Among those measures was terminating a deal with metro workers that had put them on a different pay scale than other public employees.

The government has the power to issue an emergency “civil mobilization” order forcing striking workers to return to work. Former Prime Minister George Papandreou’s government used such orders against seamen, truckers and garbage collectors in 2010 and 2011.

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