On Tuesday, the Greek seamen’s union called a 24-hour strike for September 24th in a bid to protest some provisions of a so-called growth bill being discussed in the country’s Parliament.
There will be no ferries from 6 a.m. next Tuesday until 6 a.m. on Wednesday as a result of the strike. The Greek seamen’s union fears the bill to lift restrictions on investments in Greece, could end up compromising workers’ rights.
In a previous strike move, the union said in a statement that “for eight consecutive years, the seamen have not received not even a one-euro increase.” The union has repeatedly asked for passengers’ understanding and support in their effort to get fairer treatment.
Piraeus port has been in sharp focus since China’s Cosco took over most operations there. It is expected that Greece will see further private investment to improve this and other port capacity and efficiency, which in turn could mean “Chinese level” wages for all concerned.
Back in 2017, The Maritime Executive ran a story entitled “Chinese Seafarers: An Invisible Group,” which pretty much framed the Greek seamen’s argument. Dr. Pengfei Zhang, academic, lawyer and former master mariner brought out damning accusations of low wages, long working hours, poor working and living conditions and exploitation by manning agencies.
So, if “efficiency” is in part about costs savings, it seems reasonable for Greece’s sailors and longshoremen to be concerned.