Greek ports ground to halt with scores of vessels tied up in port or at anchor as Greek seafarers extended a 48-hour strike on all types of vessels for a second 48 hours to 6 December in protest of the pending abolition of their long standing special tax status and other planned changes to labour and insurance rights, pensions and retirement ages.
Calling the extension of the strike, the umbrella federation, the Panhellenic Seamens Federation (PNO) warned there is a chance the action will be extended by its 13-member unions. The PNO has already announced seafarers will participate in the nationwide private sector’s 24-hour strike, on 8 December. It has also said it is not planning to back down until the government does.
The Crew Union of the Tug Boats is also participating in the strike action and operations are affected at the ports of Piraeus, Aspropyrgos, Eleusis and Pachi/Megara as well as ports around the country, thus during the strike period, vessels are not be able to berth, shift or sail from the affected ports.
The extension of the action was called as seafarers prepared a protest march on the Piraeus-based Shipping and Island Policy Ministry, 5 Decembe
A change to the seafarers tax status is being dictated by Greece’s creditors, the so-called ‘troika’ comprising the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The EC, ECB and IMF demand various changes to taxation legislation, as part of the changes Greece has to implement in order to receive further financial support.
The special tax status of seafarers which currently costs the state EUR91.2m a year, will either be diluted or abolished altogether.
The PNO claims seafarers taxable income will “go up to a rate of 45%; even more if the special solidarity levy is added”.
“The seafarers profession is being led on the path to complete extinction,” said the PNO.
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