There are four things a resident of Greece can count on: Bureaucracy, delays, death and strikes.*
Strikes do not paralyze or cripple the country, as media often claim, but are merely additional annoyances to navigate. Not all of them are about protesting something, as some are staged in support, but they’re almost always about money. Most people I surveyed see it purely as an opportunity for a day off, since demands are rarely met.
This week, there are four strikes:
Tuesday: College (TEI) professors will be on a 24-hour strike to protest pay and working conditions;
Wednesday: Taxi drivers for 24 hours to support the fare increase beyond the rate of inflation; lawyers to protest proposed pension changes;
Thursday: Municipal workers from 11:00 a.m. over wage increase demands.
Everyone should adjust their lives accordingly.
* Taxes is not on the list of “sure things,” due to successful dodging and many people’s wages not being high enough, which makes them exempt.
G700 anti-strike against the Athens metro
For years, Athenians have made it clear that an extension of hours beyond midnight were indeed wanted and necessary on both the metro and electrikos, especially on Friday and Saturday nights when more people are out. It’s not only common for large cities to extend mass transport hours every day of the week, but it’s also good for the economy and environment.
The Transport Ministry and metro authorities finally (and reluctantly) conceded to a “trial” extension of 2 months starting February 1st and agreed to pay an extra 200,000 euros/month in overtime. Almost immediately, unionist interest groups blocked the move, and workers followed suit in a knee-jerk reaction claiming extended hours now pose a “safety risk” — NY and Paris are at risk every day, if that’s the case — though it appears that the trial might go forward.
In response, G700: Generation 700 euros has launched an anti-strike asking people to gather on February 9th from 12 midnight to 2:00 a.m. at Syntagma metro station in protest. (If you cannot read their site in Greek, here’s a translation in English).
Why is this their concern? Because with the price of taxi fare and other expenses on the rise, and salaries remaining low, people who cannot afford cars or choose not to drink and drive will be deprived of safe affordable transport. Going out is increasingly becoming a rich man’s activity. More than that, wealthy union bosses should not be allowed to hold a city or country hostage.