Striking Athens transport staff ordered to return to work


The Greek government ordered striking transport staff back to work yesterday, threatening them with arrest if they refused to end an eight-day walkout that has paralysed the Athens subway.

Workers said they would defy the order, issued under emergency legislation the conservative-led government invoked for the first time since taking power in June.

The strike is the latest test for Greece’s fragile coalition as it faces down the unions to implement austerity measures demanded by foreign lenders as the price for bailout funds.

“Neither the government nor society can be held hostage to union mentality,” said development minister Kostis Hatzidakis. “The government can’t ignore this. There is nothing else we can do.”

But in a sign of the coalition’s fragility, the move was criticised from within its own ranks as the smallest party in the three-party government called it “extreme”. – (Reuters)