Greek Gas Station Owners Agree to Dialogue to Avoid Strike

Greek Gas Station Owners Agree to Dialogue to Avoid Strike
# 27 July 2010 23:46 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Greek service station owners said Tuesday that they will engage in dialogue with the government over proposed reform to the sector and decided not to strike for the time being, APA reports quoting The Wall Street Journal.
The station owners’ union rejects clauses in a new bill designed to open up the profession because it would liberalize the sector and increase competition by abolishing geographic restrictions and allowing supermarkets to enter the field.
"Out of a sense of responsibility and despite the fact that the new proposed law will threaten safety, we have decided that we won’t strike until the end of the process of dialogue with the Ministry of Transport," the union said in a televised statement.
Meanwhile, air traffic returned to normal in Greece Tuesday following the suspension of a two-day "work-to-rule" protest that caused hundreds of flights to be delayed which impacted domestic passengers and foreign visitors at the peak period of Greece’s all important tourism season.
The air traffic controllers’ union objects to proposed changes contained in a bill by the Transport Ministry to the way the air traffic control system is run. The union shelved plans to strike Saturday July 31 and decided to engage in a 10-day period of dialogue with the ministry.
The decision by service station owners and air traffic controllers to allow time for talks to reach a consensus come on the second day of an open-ended, nationwide truckers’ strike opposed to government reforms of their industry.
The strike has led to severe fuel shortages around the country and massive queues at petrol stations. Local media report that more than 95% of gas stations in the greater Athens area are out of fuel, and three-quarters of gas stations in the northern city of Thessaloniki have also run dry.
Liberalizing Greece’s tightly regulated sectors, such as trucking and service stations, is one of the reforms the socialist government has promised the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for an EUR110 billion loan that it secured in early May.
Under the terms of that loan deal, Greece will also move to pry open other "closed professions" affecting lawyers, pharmacists, public notaries and architects, among others.
The trucking reforms envisage liberalizing the Greek market by issuing new truck licenses to spur competition, but which would also severely undercut the value of existing licenses in circulation, now worth between EUR90,000 and EUR200,000 each.
The strike coincides with a two-week visit by a delegation of EU, IMF and European Central Bank officials to review Greece’s progress on its reform program.
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