Thursday, September 23, 2010

Greek Truck Drivers Rage At Government Haulage Vote

Stones Thrown in Continuing Protest
Shipping News Feature

GREECE – Anarchy reigned outside the Athens Parliament building yesterday when striking truck drivers, watching the vote on a big screen set up outside, threw stones and clashed with tear gas firing Police as the government voted on the principle of abandoning haulage licences, with no mention of compensation to those who had paid previously for the right to work.

The Government have accused the strikers of operating a closed shop, seemingly forgetful of the fact that it was they who reaped the licensing income. As we have detailed previously many of the drivers have invested heavily, seemingly with no prospect of recouping their money as the freight transport sector opens up to all comers. Yesterday MP's faced a barrage of abuse from drivers shouting 'Thieves' at them.

On the scene drivers swore to continue to blockade vital road junctions around the capital and not deliver goods, with a union boss saying the drivers had nothing else to lose. The truckers will undoubtedly join in the European wide protests scheduled for 29th September, demonstrations expected to be well supported in France and Spain where transport unions are due to join public sector workers in a General Strike, as well as Greece. In Athens itself ADEDY, the public sector union are holding their own strike on 29th September with a 24 hour stoppage to protest against cuts in pay and pensions.

The vote to liberalise haulage went through comfortably 83 to 16 with one abstention, MP’s no doubt realising the European Authorities currently funding the country's huge debt would insist on major changes. The vote on the specific plight of the licensed truckers was much tighter at 53 to 46, four more votes would have changed the result and possibly had far reaching consequences.