Friday, September 25, 2009

Greek Strike Threatened To Delay Container Terminal Agreement

Dock Workers Vow To Close Piraeus And Await Election Result
Shipping News Feature

GREECE – Reports today indicate that Greek dockers will hold a pair of 48 hour strikes beginning the 1st and 5th October in an effort to alter the terms under which two of Piraeus’ container quays are to be managed in future.

The Chinese shipping and container terminal management giant, COSCO, won the contract to manage the terminals last year and are due to start operations on the 6th October, two days after the national elections. The political parties however have used the terms of the agreement as a political football with threats to renegotiate terms if the main socialist party is elected.

The agreement between the Port Authority and COSCO was ratified by the government six months ago despite howls of protest from dock workers who are objecting to privatisation. The industrial unrest, coupled with the slump in world trade saw throughput of containers at Piraeus down last year by a massive 70% to around 430,000 TEU’s.

A local industry expert commented “Piraeus (and Salonika) have lost a huge amount of trade due to the delays caused by the unrest. The traffic moves but now everybody has turned to trailers. Perishable cargoes were sitting stranded so long the goods were ruined in the containers. The situation has become intolerable. The government should have reached cut off terms with the dock workers years ago to ensure a smooth transition to privatisation.”

COSCO have already revealed expansion plans for the improved facilities despite industrial action aimed at thwarting the changes. Dockers have been striking and banning overtime periodically in actions which will bring back memories to many of our readers of similar disputes many years past.