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Athens metro service resumes

January 25, 2013

Underground trains in Athens have resumed service following a strike that disrupted transportation in the Greek capital for more than a week. The workers had walked off the job to protest against planned salary cuts.

Passengers wait to board on a train at Syntagma metro station after the end of a nine-day strike in Athens January 25, 2013.
Image: Reuters

Metro train operators returned to the job on Friday, a day after the government had announced that it would impose emergency powers to force them back to work. It threatened those who failed to do with dismissal and up to five years in jail.

"The first trains have begun to operate and staff are returning to their posts," a development ministry source told the news agency AFP. "For the time being the train frequency is low but the situation is returning to normal."

The resumption of service came several hours after police decked out in riot gear had stormed the main depot of the metro service to break up a sit-in by striking workers.

Trade unions reacted to the government's decision to impose emergency powers by calling workers with Athens' tram, bus, and trolley services off the job. Further strike action is planned for next week.

Opposition parties have criticized the government's decision to impose the emergency measures to force the staff back to work as extreme and authoritarian.

"This unconstitutional and coup d'etat-style mobilization should be repealed immediately," the far-left party Syriza said in a statement.

The workers and the unions that represent them oppose the government's plans to reduce their salaries from an average gross monthly wage of 2,500 euros ($3,364) to 2,038 euros.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras defended the move, which is part of a series of austerity measures aimed at complying with the terms of an international bailout for Greece.

"The Greek people have sustained major sacrifices. I can allow no exceptions," Samaras said. "Public transport does not belong to guilds. It belongs to the people."

pfd/dr (AFP, dpa)

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