February 15, 2011 - 13:35 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Bus, metro, tram and trolley workers in the Greek capital Athens walked off the job Feb 15 on a 24-hour strike, the latest in a series of near-daily work stoppages and demonstrations against cost-cutting reforms in the transport sector.
The reforms are designed to reduce expenditure and waste at Greece's loss-making public transport companies, but workers fear an erosion of their rights. They were planning a demonstration outside Parliament in the afternoon, when lawmakers will be discussing and voting on the bill.
Public transport ticket prices were increased by up to 80 percent earlier this month as part of efforts to reduce the companies' losses.
Greece avoided bankruptcy last year through a euro110 billion (currently about $150 billion) international rescue loan package. In return, the Socialist government implemented unpopular austerity measures.
The strike led to traffic jams across the city during the morning rush-hour as Athenians headed to work in cars and taxis. Authorities lifted the daily restrictions on the number of cars in the city center to help ease the situation. Athens has a system based on vehicle number plate endings to determine which cars can circulate on which days in the city center, in order to limit traffic and pollution levels.
Transport workers have said they are determined to continue their work stoppages, with buses expected to pull off the capital's streets on Feb 16 for four hours, The Associated Press reported.