In the country where the eyes of the European market are anxiously observing, Greek truckers are continuing to lay their hands off the wheels and instead steer a nation-wide strike. More than 30,000 truckers in Greece went on the strike on Sunday and have been off of work up to today.
This latest strike is a part of the series of protests over the Greek government’s austerity measures that cut back on pensions, social programs, wages, and many other budgets in the public sector in an attempt to relieve its huge debt of over 200 billion euros.
The government agreed to measures proposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in cutting back. The actions of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement-led government under Prime Minister Papandreou angered the majority of the public and provoked millions into hitting the streets and protesting all over Greece.
Clashes between people and riot police have settled since the initial outbreak of riots but the mood of the public is still antipathetic towards the government. The truckers currently striking do not want the government to introduce a reform into the freight sector. The reform is intended to arouse competition in the freight business by decreasing license fees. Truckers who have already paid over 300,000 USD for their licenses take this as very unfair.
The effects of the six day strike have been felt in many parts of Greece as supplies of fuel began to drop. Trucks that usually deliver the fuel are absent which meant the government had to put in a substitute until the strike is over.
Greek officials stated that the military’s trucks and ships along with other civilian vehicles were being used to deliver the necessary fuel to vital locations such as hospitals and airports.
Tourist hot-spots are especially hard-hit right now as roadblocks and lack of fuel have delayed the thousands of tourists. Businesses in need of trucks are in critical conditions. “Without trucks, there’s no gas, without gas there’s no cars, and without cars, we can’t carry them [passengers]“ lamented a cab firm representative. Already estimated amounts of billions of euros have been lost in spoiled produce, the tourist industry, and in other businesses.
The truckers say they do not intend to stop striking despite the government’s threat of revoking their licenses and prosecuting the truckers if they did not return to work; reports of fights between riot police and protesting truckers have been reported with a dozen or so injuries. While the situation has gradually cooled and been brought under control in Athens and a few other major cities, some other parts of the country remain largely without fuel. The government expects this “disruption” to “ease” by Monday.
(Cover Picture (Rep): AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)