Greek seamen to continue strike, disrupting ferry links

Greek maritime workers will continue a strike at least through Tuesday, disrupting ferry services between the mainland and the country's myriad islands, their union said.

The strike, begun last Thursday to protest proposed job cuts "that would destroy the sector", has been well followed and will continue on Monday and Tuesday, the Panhellenic Seamen's Union said in a statement Sunday.

A meeting Friday between union leaders and Merchant Marine Minister Costis Moussouroulis was "fruitless", PNO said.

The PNO is also demanding collective bargaining agreements for every category of vessel and the payment of back wages, the statement said.

Moussouroulis responded by saying he was seeking a solution but had little room for manouevre in the current economic climate, the semi-official Athens News Agency reported.

The proposed restructuring "will destroy the sector where at the moment more than 7,000 sailors out of a total 15,000 are unemployed," union chief Yannis Halas told reporters last week.

Mass transit workers, hospital doctors and farmers also went on strike over the last two weeks to protest a fourth straight year of austerity policies put in place in return for international loans to avoid bankruptcy.

Farmers protesting dwindling incomes and higher borrowing costs launched a protest last week during which they parked their tractors near major motorways without disrupting traffic.

However on Sunday some farmers blocked toll booths near Lamia, 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Athens, so they could hand out leaflets explaining their grievances to motorists.

"It's a symbolic action while we wait for a response from the government," ANA quoted trade unionist Dimitris Dimoyannis as saying.

Greece's two main union federations, the public sector ADEDY and the GSEE of the private sector, have called a general strike on February 20.

The work stoppage is planned on the eve of a visit by auditors of the "troika" of Greece's creditors -- the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

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