Greek Dockers Strike Against Privatisation

Striking dock workers march in the port of Piraeus
Striking dock workers march in the port of Piraeus

GREEK dockworkers at the two main Greek ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki began 48-hour ‘rolling’ strikes on Thursday against the privatisation of the ports.

Athens and Piraeus Metro and bus workers staged a 5-hour stoppage on Thursday also against privatisation. On Thursday, dockworkers and their supporters marched through Piraeus to the Ministry for Naval Affairs shouting ‘we want public-owned ports’.

The leader of the National Dockers Federation Yiorghos Georgakopoulos said at the strike rally on Thursday that ‘We are marching to the Minister to convince him to do the right thing for the dockworkers!’

But the Greek government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has already signed a contract to sell the Piraeus port, the biggest and the busiest in the east Mediterranean Sea, to the Chinese state-owned company Cosco which already owns a dock in Piraeus since 2009.

The contract does not guarantee either jobs, wages or working conditions. When it took over the Piraeus dock, Cosco sacked all workers and re-employed only those who accepted a 75% cut in wages and ‘flexible’ conditions.

The dockworkers march passed by the hundreds of tents set up by refugees from the wars in Syria and Iraq. Greek authorities say that some 1,500 refugees live in the tents. In order to move them out, the Greek authorities are harassing and preventing solidarity volunteers offering food and other necessities to the refugees.

Despite atrocious conditions, the refugees do not want to be taken to so-called refugee camps because they are afraid that they will be imprisoned and sent back to Turkey under the current reactionary EC-Turkey deal fully supported by the Greek government.