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Greek port workers plan 48-hour walkout against privatisations
May 24, 2016 / 9:51 AM / 2 years ago

Greek port workers plan 48-hour walkout against privatisations

ATHENS, May 24 (Reuters) - Greek port workers will walk off the job on Thursday for 48 hours to protest against the sale of the country’s two biggest ports, which Athens has promised to international lenders in exchange for much-needed bailout loans.

Privatisations, a key term of Greek bailouts since 2010, have generated only a fraction of an initial 50 billion euro ($56 billion) target and have met strong union resistance. Port workers, who fear job cuts, have staged repeated strikes.

“Selling the ports is a mistake, it won’t help bring growth,” George Gogos, general secretary of the Piraeus Port dock workers’ union, told Reuters.

Port workers unions will decide on a new 48-hour walkout after the end of the strike, Gogos said. Rolling strikes can lead to container pile-ups and disrupt cargo operations.

The left-led government halted the sale of its two main ports in Piraeus and the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki when it first won elections last year but relaunched the tenders under Greece’s 86 billion-euro bailout deal agreed in August.

Greece last month named China Cosco Shipping as the highest bidder for a 67 percent stake in Piraeus Port.

Investors are expected to submit binding bids for a majority stake in the port of Thessaloniki at the end of September, sources close to the privatisation said on Monday.

Denmark’s container terminal operator APM Terminals , Philippines’s International Container Terminal Services and Dubai-based P&O Steam Navigation Company (DP World) were interested in the Thessaloniki Port, the head of the country’s privatisation agency said last month.

$1 = 0.8944 euros Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Mark Potter

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