Rail workers to strike over railway overhaul plan

13. October 2010.

The railway workers’ union federation POS on Monday said its members will adopt a hardline, militant stance to government plans for the overhaul and development of Greece’s debt-ridden railways.

They will begin with a 24-hour nationwide strike on Thursday when the draft bill comes before a Parliament committee for discussion, followed by a series of 24-hour rolling strikes on dates to be decided later.

POS rejected the draft bill in its entirety on the grounds that it abolishes and privatises a large section of the rail network, privatises the company TRAINOSE that provides rail services, sells off Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) real estate and also scraps collective labour agreements and the wage scale.

In statements to the free press newspaper “Free Sunday”, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas defended the draft bill and stressed that a country in the midst of an economic crisis, which had cut civil service salaries and benefits to save one billion euros, could not at the same time continue to pay 1.2 billion euros a year to cover OSE’s deficit.

The minister pointed out that OSE’s total income in 2009 was 250 million euros while its costs for the payroll alone had been 271 million euros, apart from hundreds of millions of euros in operating costs and other obligations. He stressed that with figures like the above, the Greek railway system was steaming ahead toward self-abolition and closure that would leave all its employees out of a job.

He added that the draft bill for reforming OSE would secure the jobs of railway staff and salaries that would be above the average for public-sector workers.

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