Truck drivers carrying fuel stand their ground and continue their strike against the austerity measures despite the government calling a civil conscription on them
The fuel carrying truck drivers strike which started on Monday in response to a special "reform", part and parcel of the austerity measures, that will see individual ownership abolished and replaced by large firms, has been the first strike crisis facing the greek government after the signing of the EU-IMF structural adjustment agreement. As a result of the strike at the moment of writing all but a few gas stations across the country stand dry and shut, with serious problems caused in boat and bus transport as well as in individual car transport at the peak of the summer exodus from the cities. The strike is believed to be hampering the tourist industry which has reported a virtual freeze on reservations from abroad.
The government's response to the strike has been to call the truck drivers for dialogue on the condition they stop the strike. The truck drivers refusal to attend such onerous negotiations led yesterday evening the PM to announce a civil conscription of the drivers and their trucks, an authoritarian administrative measure equivalent to forced labour in pain of prison. The truck drivers response has been defiant: last night after the announcement of civil conscription drivers pulled their trucks to blockade the oil refineries of Thessaloniki and Aspropyrgos (Athens), while at the moment of writing a demo outside the Ministry of Transport is forming in protest to the authoritarian administrative decision. Faced with resistance the government has not yet used force to force conscription with truck-driver reps announcing: "We continue. Let them take us to prison. We have nothing to more to lose. If the government thinks that after two days of strike it can move to such measures instead choosing dialogue, it carries all responsibility" .
The response of the Left to the crisis has been bitter. The KKE (Communist Party) asked in Parliament if the government intends to reopen exile-island concentration camps for dissidents, while the Radical Left Coalition has called the conscription a "July coup d' etat" and the government policy "colonialist". Civil conscription of workers has occurred again under the Republic at least three times, in 1979 (bank workers), 1986 (airspace control officers) and 2006 (dock-workers).