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Ferries strike leaves thousands travelers stranded on Greek islands

Thousands of travelers have been stranded on Greek islands due to the 48-hour strike by the Greek Seamen’s Federation PNO. Locals and holidaymakers are not able to leave the islands because for many islands the sea offers the only way to connect with the mainland. Many tourists are at risk to miss their flights back home.

At the same time, the strike has also halted the supply of goods to the islands or the transport of goods to the mainland.

Citing the Greek Shipowners Association for Passenger Ships (SEEN), UK daily Independent writes that the strike has affected around 180,000 people who have booked travel to and from some of Greece’s most popular tourist destinations.

The strike started at 6:00 a.m. Monday, Sept 3rd 2018, initially for 24 hours. However, the PNO decided on Monday afternoon to extend the strike for another 24 hours with the ferries to start sailing again as of 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Sept 5th.

The Federation is expected to hold another meeting at around 1 o’clock noon today, Tuesday, to decide about possible extension of the strike.

The seamen’s unions demand a 5% wage raise after their wages remained unchanged in the eight years of the Greek economic crisis.

The ship owners have offered a 2% raise for the time 1. Sept 2018 to 31. Dec 2019. The PNO has rejected the offer.

In a statement issued on Monday, the SEEN describes their offer as an “improved” one. The older offer was proposing twice a 1% wage raise for the same period.

It looks as if SEEN is not willing to offer more than 2% raise.

The Shipowners Association stressed that for 75 out of 100 Greek islands the sea way is the only way to connect with the mainland due to lack of airport facilities. It underlined that hundreds of thousands of tourists and islanders depend on the sea traffic and so do thousands of tons of products, basic goods and food items.”

On Tuesday morning, two ferries arrived at the port of Piraeus  carrying passengers and vehicles from the Northern Aegean Sea and the Dodecanese, state broadcaster ERT TV reported.  Diagoras and Nissos Chios had left the islands before 6 a.m. Monday and were allowed to reach their destination ports. The routes covered by these two ferries are long and last more than 24 hours.

UK media stress that “passengers affected by the strike are entitled to a refund.”

If you plan to travel by sea, check with travel agencies and local port authorities.

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