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Strike to continue 48 hours more

Strike to continue 48 hours more
Dock workers in the Greek port of Piraeus voted Sunday to continue their strike for another 48 hours.

Dock workers in the Greek port of Piraeus voted Sunday to continue their strike for another 48 hours.

Dock workers in the Greek port of Piraeus voted Sunday to continue their strike for another 48 hours, in an attempt to pressure the newly elected socialist government to cancel an agreement with China's Cosco Pacific to operate two container terminals. "After privatization, two thirds of personnel will no longer be required and will lose their jobs," said Giorgos Nouhoutidis, the dock workers' representative.

The workers began their strikes on Oct. 1, the day Cosco Pacific was due to begin its 35-year concession according to an agreement signed last November in Athens by Chinese president Hu Jintao and Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

Raw materials, foods and hospital equipment are among the goods lying in over 12,000 containers in the port because of the strike.

"We have become hostages to the strikers...the market needs those goods, said Vassilis Korkidis, president of the Piraeus Merchants Association.

On Friday, a Council of State judge ruled that the agreement, ratified by Greece's parliament last March, was legal, rejecting a petition by the unions. The socialists had voted against the deal in March but, having formed a government earlier this week after trouncing the conservatives, have said they will abide by international agreements.

Union representatives privately said that they hoped the new government would freeze implementation of the deal in order to extract concessions on employment levels from the Chinese.

Cosco, which paid euro831.2 million for the concession, has promised to spent over euro200 million to expand and modernize Piraeus' container facilities. Modernization would reduce the number of bridge cranes from 14 to 5 and cut heavil;y on the number of required operators, said Nouhoutidis.

www.TurkishMaritime.com.tr

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