Greek Ports strikes set to climax
Things might be taking a wrong turn when it comes to the government's plans of awarding a concession period of up to 30 years to private operators, in an effort to revamp Hellas' degrading port infrastructure.
Late last week, the national dock workers' federation in the country has called for another 24-hour strike as protests against the government's privatization plans continue.
The stoppage is being called for next Wednesday, January 30. The federation is also calling for its overtime ban run on throughout February. Workers at Piraeus are also reported to have voted for their own 24-hour stoppage immediately following Wednesday's planned walkout.
Everything at this point indicates that a possible complete shutdown at the country's largest port, the port of Piraeus is imminent, something which could have devastating consequences. Port authorities have warned that container storage terminals are already running close to capacity and that further strikes will exacerbate the congestion.
In the meantime, the awarding process is moving ahead as scheduled, with the Ministry of Mercantile Shipping releasing as promised the inviting text of the global tender process. Those which shall express their formal interest to participate in the process shall file an non-binding offer, which will be opened on March 19th for the Port of Piraeus and on March 20th for the port of Thessalonica.
The aim is to upgrade the ports' facilities, since strong unions and inefficiencies at handling have led cargo freighters to turn to other ports, some of them in Italy and others in Croatia and Turkey. The investment in the ports is expected to total almost 650 million euros. The tenders are for management contracts for two of the three container facilities at Piraeus and for the entire container terminal in Thessaloniki.
Among the parties interested in the privatization are DP World, COSCO Pacific Limited, Maersk (APM Terminals BV.), Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), and Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd (ZIM).