Peiraeus blocked as dockworkers strike against privatisation enters 12th day

Peiraeus harbour container bay

Peiraeus, the central commercial harbour of Greece remains blocked as dockworkers decided to continue their strike against privatisation by another 48h. More than 215.000 tons of merchandise is stocking up in the harbour while 12.000 containers remain in boats waiting to be unloaded.

The dockworkers of Peiraeus, the largest harbour of Greece, adjacent to Athens, have decided to continue their strike which has caused all sea-related commercial activities to freeze. The strike began on the first of October when the lease of the harbour, which is state-owned, to the Chinize giant COSCO, was officially activated. The dockworkers have blockaded all loading and unloading of cargo, leading to enormous chains of trucks in the harbour, the piling of 215.000 tons of merchandise and 12.000 containers in limbo on boats anchored in the harbour.

The commercial cost of the strike has been estimated as enormous, leading the Commerce and Industry Chamber to ask the new Socialist government to judge the strike illegal, whereas the left denounces the lease as "neocolonialism", and has been pressing the government to honor its promises and freeze the contract with COSCO.

The leasing of the harbour had been voted last March with 149 votes in parliament, although 151 are needed to put any legislation through, thus putting the lease under scrutiny as anti-constitutional. The vote had caused a 48h strike and a demo of dockworkers outside the parliament.

Comments

Steven.
Oct 11 2009 18:21

Good luck to them! Have any other docks been privatised do you know? And do you know what has happened to the workers there if so? Lower wages, job cuts etc?

taxikipali
Oct 12 2009 15:59

No other harbour has been leased or privatised, as far as I was able to research. The lease to COSCO would mean a change of status for 1.500 dockworkers who are now under state-employment status. Ms Katseli, the new Minister of Economics has announced today that her government is challenging the contract with COSCO, which will now have to be re-negotiated together with reps of the workers' union. Nevetheless the strike still holds; to the arguments of the harbour management which claims the strike is costing losses of 500.000 euros per day, the workers have replied that they will not just abandon public property to neocolonialism.

Steven.
Oct 12 2009 16:31

Right okay, thanks for the clarification. This dispute is particularly important then if it is basically the thin end of the wedge - the first privatisation which if successful will then be extended to all the others.

taxikipali
Oct 13 2009 12:54

The dockworkers have decided to extend their strike until Sunday October 18. This is expected to paralise the market even further, and exercise immense pressure on the government to scrap the deal.