Greece grapples with strikes despite mobilization
Striking bus drivers in Athens have defied a court order to return to their jobs, extending last week's protests by subway employees over government-imposed salary cuts for public sector workers.
A Union representing public bus drivers in the Greek capital continued their rolling 24-hour strikes Monday, a day after a court ruled their protest illegal. Trolley-bus and national rail service workers, however, agreed to end their strikes.
The strikes were called to protest a government decision to cancel their annual pay agreements and impose additional cuts as part of an overhaul in public sector salary payments.
The action was taken as part of cash-strapped Greece's commitments to its international bailout creditors.
Last week, the conservative-led government issued an emergency decree - known as a civil mobilization order - that forced striking subway workers to end an eight-day strike.
"This tactic of mobilization, to blackmail us, will not work," said Leonidas Skoulas, leader of the striking public bus workers' union. "We are ready at any moment to start a level-headed dialogue with the government."
Workers at Greece's Public Power Corporation have called a 24-hour strike for Thursday, while other public servants are planning work stoppages on that day.
Greece has survived on emergency loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund since 2010, but imposed successive rounds of punishing cuts that have hammered jobs and the economy.
Public sector workers have seen their income axed by as much as 50 percent with the latest reductions. A new round of tax hikes and the elimination of certain family benefits will start this week.
Under new pay scales, the country's top diplomats, military officials, and academics on a state salary all receive net monthly pay of less than (EURO)2,000 ($2,690).