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Piraeus dockers strike again over Cosco deal

Piraeus dockers strike again over Cosco deal

Athens: Dockers at the main Greek port of Piraeus on Tuesday launched a fresh 48-hour strike against the concession of container facilities to Chinese transport operator Cosco, AFP reports.
Greece's port employees federation (OMYLE) which wants the deal scrapped said the governnment had failed to give assurances on labour relations and the extent of future state control over the facilities.
The walkout began at midnight on Monday and the workers will meet again on Wednesday to examine future action, the OMYLE said in a statement.
The union had staged another strike last month that shut down the port's container facilities for over two weeks, causing a massive goods holdup in one of Mediterranean's busiest harbours.
The union fears the new operators will bring large-scale lay-offs and that the influx of cheap Chinese goods will undermine the already shaky Greek family-owned store sector.
Greece's new socialist government is attempting to renegotiate elements of the agreement after inheriting the issue from its conservative predecessors whom it defeated in general elections in early October.
Economy and Merchant Marine Minister Louka Katseli late on Monday said the governing socialists would "exhaust" every legal option available under the agreement and European laws to improve the terms for the Greek state.
Greece's previous conservative government last year signed a 35-year concession of Piraeus' docks II and III to Cosco expected to bring a guaranteed premium of 3.4 billion euros (five billion dollars) and boost the port's capacity by 250 percent.
The port circulated over 1.3 million 20-foot equivalent units (Teu's) in 2007 and OLP (Piraeus port) last year had a turnover of 116 million euros (171 million dollars).
The Greek parliament approved the concession by a 149-131 vote in March.
Greece had spent years trying to persuade China of its strategic role as a trade partner, both by virtue of its location on the crossroads between Europe and Asia and as a member of the European Union.
A similar plan for Thessaloniki involving the full concession of its container terminal fell through in December after frontrunning bidder Hutchison Whampoa withdrew its interest.  [04/11/09]

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