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Greece issues emergency order to end sailors' strike

Athens has issued an emergency order to force ferry workers to end a week-long strike. Hundreds of islands are without ferry services to the mainland, with some starting to suffer supply shortages.

Passangers wait for the ferry's departure

Islands without airports are suffering from shortages

Greece's Socialist government has issued an emergency order to force ferry workers to end their week-long strike.

The Greek Seamen's Federation announced earlier Monday that its week-long strike will continue at least until Thursday, leaving hundreds of Greek islands without ferry services.

It is the second time during the financial crisis that the government has issued an emergency order which would allow the detention of seamen who do not comply.

Supply shortages

Due to the sailors' strike, some of the islands are already starting to suffer shortages in supplies such as medicine and fresh products.

"It can't go on like this," said Yannis Diamantidis, a merchant shipping minister. "There are even five dead bodies which can't be taken to their home islands in order to be buried." The strike has also stranded sick people who can't be taken to specialist clinics in Athens; islands without an airport are especially dependent on the ferry services.

A man reads at a ferry dock

Greek sailors have been striking for a week

In Crete, furious farmers put up a fight with seamen last Friday and Saturday since they could not export their perishable goods. Seamen eventually allowed three ferries to clear the port, in a show of goodwill.

The strike began on Tuesday last week. Talks between the government and employers have so far failed to break the deadlock.

The sailors have demanded a 2-percent wage increase. The ferry owners' Union of Maritime Enterprises (EEN) have said they would only agree to a 0.5 percent increase. In a statement, they called for sailors to accept the terms in a "joint effort to save the sector."

Other sectors plan to strike

Greece's main journalists' union has called for a 24-hour news blackout on Tuesday and public sector doctors have also vowed to walk off their jobs, in support of the striking sailors. A strike called by the country's civil aviation workers set for Tuesday has been ruled illegal by an Athens court and was subsequently cancelled.

Unions all over Greece are strongly opposed to the government's austerity measures which have been implemented to slash public spending in exchange for a rescue package from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. Unions have called for a nationwide strike in Greece on December 15.

Author: Sarah Steffen (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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