Ships stayed in port and public buses and trains ran on reduced services in Greece on Tuesday as workers staged their first walkout since a new conservative government took office in July.
The new government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis came to power on pledges to speed up investments and spur growth in a country where economic output shrank by a quarter during a multi-year financial crisis.
Tuesday’s action was triggered by government moves to change some rules for calling a strike, allowing the non-implementation of collective working agreements under certain conditions and setting up a registry for labour unions, which have called the move an attempt to control them.
Unions representing workers in fields as diverse as banking to nursery schools urged members to go on strike. Industrial action in Greece rarely secures full participation of workers.
Labour union ADEDY, which represents about half a million of civil servants, says the changes the administration is trying to usher through parliament would hobble the right to strike.
“The right to strike is the worker’s ultimate tool and we need to defend it with all our might,” ADEDY said in a statement.
The government plan also introduces a National Programme for Simplification of Procedure – a fast-track licencing process for major investments – and disciplinary action for civil servants who delay permissioning.