Sep 20 2010
Lorry drivers in Greece, who are protesting against plans to liberalise the sector, hardened their stance over the weekend, saying they would maintain the blockade along key thoroughfares of the national road network unless the government abandoned the reforms being voted in parliament on September 21 2010, Greek daily Kathimerini reported.
Incidents of violence were also reported as some lorry drivers who refused to join the protests were allegedly beaten up by colleagues leading the action.
The latest round of protests are in opposition to contemplated reforms that could potentially cause hundreds of job losses and forced retirements. The protesters have threatened to continue with strikes until Greek transport minister Dimitris Reppas agreed to negotiate and offer concessions.
More than 800 trucks remained parked in long lines along key sections of the Greek main thoroughfares on the outskirts of Athens for a seventh day running. The longest blockades were at the junctions of Haidari and Elefsina, along with the Corinth toll gates.
Unionist leaders representing the protests said they would scale up their action prior to the scheduled submission of the draft bill that would potentially open up their sector to competition, claiming the reforms would only succeed to wreck “thousands of livelihoods”.
There were no reports of major problems with supplies of fuel and other goods by late last night but Vassilis Korkidis, president of the national confederation of Greek commerce, said that the first signs of shortages had already emerged.
During the first wave of protests earlier this summer, the Greek government enlisted the army in order to tackle the fallout from the five-day strike by truck drivers, dispatching military trucks to help alleviate nationwide fuel shortages.
Fuel supplies were severely disrupted and Greece’s tourist industry, already suffering severely, was hit worst still.
The impact of the truckers’ action on Greeks and tourists was serious as the country was left paralysed, with hundreds of thousands of tourists stranded, while stores were not able to stock on foodstuffs and other essentials.