The strikers’ front in Piraeus broke apart in the early morning hours of Wednesday and at least three ferries left Piraeus port at six in the morning. Strong riot police forces and coast guards were deployed at the docks to facilitate the ferries loading and sailing off.
During the night the ferries were anchored off shore the main port entrance with the seamen on board waiting for the latest developments.
Thousands members of PAME, the union of Greek Communist party (KKE) had rushed to Piraeus port to support the striking seamen. PAME is the strongest union within the PNO seamen unions umbrella.
At an emergency meeting at 5 a.m., the PNO decided to join the general strike on February 20th 2013 and to call for new strikes when the new multi-bill about the maritime sector will be submitted to Parliament.
In a statement, PNO spoke of “unprecedented violence and terror” on the side of the government.
Currently, a huge protest is taking place outside the Maritime Ministry in Piraeus. The rally is headed by Aleka Papariga,m general secretary of KKE. Papariga condemended the government policies on the issue, saying that the coalition government protects the interests owners of shipping companies and big hotels.
Maritime Minister Kostis Mousouroulis called on seamen to join the dialogue. On Tuesday, the government issued ‘civil mobilization” orders forcing the striking seamen to return to work.
However the government cannot satisfy the major demand posed by the seamen: to get their outstanding payments totalling some 20 million euro. Some claim they haven’t been paid for six months.
A major question has been raised: how can the state proceed to ‘civil mobilization’ of employees working for private companies?
Nevertheless, passengers should contact local port authorities as the schedules are expected to be modified today and tomorrow.
PS I was watching a discussion with several MPs on a live program of private Skai TV this morning. A government MP said that he had received several phone calls by islands residents complaining about the strike. I assume, things would be different if PAME was not the strongest union among the seamen. It’s all about politics and votes, after all. Isn’t it?