Greek lorry drivers end strike

Unions say drivers will resume talks with the government over freight sector reform.

    Fuel supply was disrupted all over Greece after thousands of drivers walked off the job [Reuters]

    Fuel supply disrupted

    They had walked off the job last Monday to protest against plans to open up their sector, a reform required by a multi-billion euro EU/IMF bailout plan.

    The strike disrupted fuel supply all over the country, with queues forming at petrol stations.

    Army vehicles have helped supply fuel to airports, hospitals and power stations.

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    The 33,000-strong truckers union has been fighting the government's move to open up their profession and cut the price of licences to own and operate lorries, part of structural reforms to make the debt-laden economy more competitive.
     
    Road freight is one of the most closed professions in Greece with no new licences issued for nearly 40 years.

    Those in circulation are sold from person to person for hundreds of thousands of euros. The government plans to cut their price.

    Al Jazeera's Barnaby Phillips, reporting from the capital, Athens, said some economists claimed that opening up the sector would give an enormous boost to the Greek economy.

    "It would make everything more efficient and much cheaper, for example, to move goods around the country," he said.

    "But if you are a trucker with one of those valuable licenses, and particularly if you happened to have bought one just a couple of years ago, maybe mortgaged your house in order to do so ... then today you're going to be very, very upset because it would seem the value of your investment has fallen dramatically."

    The move is part of a reform programme debt-ridden Greece committed to in May in exchange for a $146bn loan package from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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