Greek civil aviation unions call off rolling strikes

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 06, 2013 10:37 AM
Greek civil aviation unions call off rolling strikes

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek civil aviation workers have called off a planned, three-day walkout against layoffs which would have disrupted flights this week at the height of the tourism season, their union said on Tuesday.

Greece pins its hopes on tourism to exit a deep recession and transport strikes have in the past marred its image abroad, hurting the key sector which accounts for about a fifth of economic output.

Responding to the planned dismissal of about 300 civil aviation workers, about a tenth of the total, their union OSYPA called 24-hour rolling strikes for August 9-11 last week, which would have affected some regional hub airports.

But OSYPA put its strike plans on hold on Tuesday after reaching a compromise with the government to put just 240 workers in a so-called mobility scheme, on their way to retirement or dismissal.

"We met halfway with the government," the head of OSYPA Vassilis Alevizopoulos told Reuters. "But now we have reached our limits, we can't take any more losses."

The union said in a statement that the decision to halt the strike was evidence that workers in the sector wanted "to promote and boost tourism and not to destroy it".

Athens is under pressure by its international lenders to fire thousands of public sector workers and shrink its spendthrift civil service, widely blamed for the debt crisis.

But firing workers is a sensitive issue in Greece, which is stuck in a sixth year of a recession and has seen unemployment jumping to a record 27 percent, twice the euro zone average.

Labour unions have repeatedly staged strikes since the debt crisis erupted in 2009 and Athens sought a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund to stay afloat.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Michael Roddy)