Greek seamen strike over collective wage agreement, labour rights

REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Greek ships remained docked at the country’s ports on Monday as seamen went on strike to demand the restoration of wages and labour rights, following the expiry of Greece’s third bailout programme last month.

The 24-hour strike was organised by Greece’s seamen federation (PNO), which said in a statement that negotiations with the sector’s employers over a new collective agreement that would include wage increases did not bear fruit.

After eight years of austerity prescribed by the country’s international lenders, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the left-led government has pledged to reverse unpopular labour reforms and increase the minimum wage.

The seamen want wage rises to make up for years of pay cuts implemented during austerity, arguing that their employers have seen a boost in profits in recent years and should be in a position to compensate them for their sacrifices during the crisis.

Traffic was very slow at Piraeus port on Monday morning. Shipping companies were forced to reschedule many trips.

Passenger traffic at ports and airports picks up during the summer, the top tourism season for the Mediterranean country. Nearly 32 million tourists were expected to visit Greece this year, according to tourism industry officials.

Marine unions have strongly resisted wage cuts and reforms liberalising the shipping sector, which along with tourism is a pivotal industry for Greece, a country of seafarers.