Strikes and protests in Greece
Created with residents and travelers in mind, this regularly updated page from official sources aims to provide information about current and upcoming strikes in Greece.
The goal of strikes is to cause maximum inconvenience and pressure, so strikes in Greece — as in most countries — are rarely announced more than a week in advance, can happen spontaneously and change hourly.
DO NOT ask me to predict strikes for certain dates or sectors. I understand you are seeking reassurance, but all I can give you is facts and refer you to “Q&A: Strikes in Greece,” where I answer 10 commonly asked questions about safety, racism, riots and what you can do to minimize risk.
*Last updated April 15, 2015 at 23:00. I work as an editor and do my best to keep everyone updated 24/7 since 2008, but note that livingingreece.gr and @livingingreece are unpaid side projects I run alone.
The list is arranged chronologically and compiled from major news agencies and union/transportation websites, translated from Greek to English when necessary. tripadvisor
All sources are cited and linked. Inaccuracies are attributed to the news agency quoted.
Government websites, embassies, travel agencies, expat guides, “insiders” and bloggers copy information from this page without giving credit, so you are not necessarily getting confirmation from different sources.
April 1: Events starting today.
- Archaeological sites and museums: The 46 most popular tourist sites will be open extended hours from April 1 to October 31. — Archaeological sites and museums in Greece open late
May 1: May Day, a national holiday and a day of protest and remembrance.
- Archaeological sites and museums closed. — To Vima (in Greek), Opening hours of tourist sites in Greece (in English)
- Businesses, grocery stores, shops all closed.
- Cafes, restaurants and clubs: Closed or open, depending on the area and owner.
- Public services/offices closed.
Protests: Various groups (mostly unions) stage unannounced, spontaneous mobilizations and occupations.
*Note that strikes rarely ‘paralyze’ or ‘cripple’ Greece, as described in international media. Most residents go to work, continue lives unimpeded and help travelers find solutions and alternatives. We know how to navigate around strikes.
Information about Strikers and Unions
What follows is a brief description of major unions, what services are affected by strikes, and when and where announcements can typically be expected. All unions are separate entities and make their own decisions, which are not necessarily based on a majority vote.
ADEDY: The public sector union Ανώτατη Διοίκηση Ενώσεων Δημοσίων Υπαλλήλων (ΑΔΕΔΥ), or Civil Servants’ Confederation, represents approximately 800,000 civil servants in Greece but not all workers are members, and strikes are not decided by referendum. Therefore, participation can vary by individual and location.
A strike will typically affect everything run or owned by the Greek government, including: Archaeological sites and museums, some banks, hospitals (public), post offices, public services affecting residents (courthouses, local, municipal, prefecture, tax offices). All announcements are made in Greek via their website: www.adedy.gr
Aegean Airlines: Because Aegean Airlines has its hub in Athens, it has little choice but to cancel or alter flight schedules if air traffic controllers (EEEKE) and/or the local aviation union (OSYPA) decide to strike. Press releases are typically published in Greek and English less than 24 hours before a strike via their website: www.aegeanair.com They cannot make announcements earlier because it causes far more confusion if they cancel or reschedule flights, then need to reinstate if the strike is ruled illegal or called off (which has happened).
Airports: All airports in Greece are closed when air traffic controllers/ATCs (EEEKE) are on strike. However, only participating domestic, local airports are affected when the Federation of Civil Aviation (OSYPA) announces a strike. See below.
Air traffic controllers/ATC (EEEKE): Ένωσης Ελεγκτών Εναέριας Κυκλοφορίας Ελλάδας (EEEKE), or Greek Air Traffic Controllers Association (GATCA), represents 653 air traffic controllers in Greece who earn an average salary of €3,000/month paid from Eurocontrol funds. They can choose to follow unions and strike the same day or not. When the union calls a strike, airports nationwide are forced to close, and all international flights to/from Greece and all domestic flights within the country must be canceled or rescheduled.
Strikes of this kind can be ruled illegal by a court, though it is highly unlikely if only for a few hours. Sometimes bans are honored, sometimes it goes ahead in spite of it.
During work-to-rule protests or “white strikes,” there is no overtime and strict adherence to Greek airspace rules, which state that a limited number of international and domestic flights can depart and land. If a plane does not depart within a time window that can be as little as 5 minutes, it loses its place in the queue and could wait several hours. This has a domino effect, in that late departures could mean destination airports are unable to accommodate late arrivals, and passengers miss connecting flights and must be re-booked.
Announcements are primarily made via the Greek media in Greek, and English-language media when it’s newsworthy, which can be less than 24 hours notice. The EEEKE website is an unreliable source, since only half of industrial action is posted at: www.eeeke.gr
Athens transportation (OASA): Οργανισμός Αστικών Συγκοινωνιών Αθηνών (ΟΑΣΑ), or the Athens Urban Transport Authority, concerns city and airport buses (ETHEL), trolleys (ILPAP now OSY), tram (TRAM SA), metro (AMEL) and the green line of metro or elektrikos (ISAP). Mass public transport is called μέσα μαζικής μεταφοράς (MMM). They are often urged to strike 24 hours in conjunction with unions, though some modes may operate briefly to transport protesters to/from a demonstration or rally.
Announcements in Greek are posted first by Greek media, then on the OASA and STASY websites: www.oasa.gr and www.stasy.gr. English-language media
wait until less than 24 hours or the day of the strike now post a few hours after I do, in a bid to compete with me.
Communists Workers Group (PAME): Members of the Πανεργατικό Αγωνιστικό Μέτωπο (ΠΑΜΕ), or Communists Workers Group, stage a variety of strikes that range from street protests, occupations and port blockades. All strikes are posted in Greek on their website: www.pamehellas.gr
Federation of Hellenic Civil Aviation (OSYPA): When Ομοσπονδία Συλλόγων Υπηρεσίας Πολιτικής Αεροπορίας (ΟΣΥΠΑ) decides to strike, only domestic airports and flights within Greece may be affected depending on participation by the individual and location. International flights to/from Athens and Thessaloniki go ahead if air traffic controllers (EEEKE) are not on strike. Announcements are made in Greek via the Greek media and on the OSYPA website: www.osypa.gr
Ferries and ships: There are 14 separate unions representing nautical operations, and it only takes one dissenter to cause disruptions in ferry or port services. When a court rules a strike illegal or if ferry companies and port workers state their intention to provide services, union members are still capable of blocking access to the dock or preventing passengers from embarking/disembarking. The majority of announcements come via the Greek media in Greek.
Most disruptions are caused by the Πανελλήνιας Ναυτικής Ομοσπονδίας (ΠΝΟ), or Pan-Hellenic Maritime Federation (PNO), which occasionally publishes press releases at: www.pno.gr
GENOP/DEH-KHE: Γενική Ομοσπονδία Εργαζομένων/ΔΕΗ-Κλάδου Ηλεκτρικής Ενέργειας (ΓΕΝΟΠ/ΔΕΗ-ΚΗΕ), or the General Confederation of Electric Power Workers, is a union representing employees of power company DEH/PPC in Greece. Strikes take the form of rolling, half-hour or one-hour blackouts; and are announced in Greek on websites: www.dei.gr or www.genop.gr
GSEE: The private sector union Γενική Συνομοσπονδία Εργατών Ελλάδας (ΓΣΕΕ), or General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), represents approximately 2 million employees in Greece, though not all workers are members and strikes are not decided by referendum. With businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, privately owned businesses and companies remain open normal hours on strike days simply because they are fighting for survival and want to welcome customers. Employees also have no reason to lose wages and their jobs. All strikes are announced in Greek by Greek media and the union’s website: www.gsee.gr
Hospitals: State-run public hospitals and clinics can be impacted by a number of separate unions that include ambulance drivers and emergency care workers, doctors, medical employees, nurses and hospital staff. The largest is Πανελλήνια Ομοσπονδία Εργαζομένων Δημοσίων Νοσοκομείων (ΠΟΕΔΗΝ/POEDIN) at: www.poedhn.gr
KTEL long-distance buses are privately owned and rarely affected by strikes, even when the Ομοσπονδίας Συνδικάτων Μεταφορών Ελλάδας (ΟΣΜΕ) announces them. Owners, who constitute 90 percent of KTEL’s work force, opt out and continue to run routes. The union’s website can be found at: www.osme.org.gr
Journalists: Journalists working as part of the Ελληνικών Μέσων Μαζικής Επικοινωνίας (MME), or Greek mass information media, must strike when board members call a blackout, even if they disagree since they do not have voting rights. Foreign press continue to disseminate news. Most strikes begin at 6:00 and last 24 hours, though they can end sooner if a compelling event occurs, i.e., On May 5, 2010, journalists broke their strike when three innocents died when Marfin Bank was firebombed by hooded youth.
Announcements are in Greek via: a) Greek media; b) Πανελλήνια Ομοσπονδία Ενώσεων Συντακτών (POESY) or the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists Union at www.poesy.gr; or c) Ενώσεως Συντακτών Ημερησίων Εφημερίδων Αθηνών (ΕΣΗΕΑ), or Journalists Union of Athens Daily Newspapers, at www.esiea.gr.
Lawyers (DSE): Δικηγορικών Συλλόγων Ελλάδος (ΔΣΕ), or the Bar Association of Greece, decides whether lawyers nationwide will strike but any of 63 individual prefectures can vote differently. When lawyers are on strike, court cases must be delayed and rescheduled. Announcements are made by Greek media.
Olympic Air: Olympic Air has its hub in Athens and has no choice but to cancel or alter flight schedules if air traffic controllers (EEEKE) and/or the local aviation union (OSYPA) decide to strike. Press releases are first published in Greek then English less than 24 hours before a strike via their website: www.olympicair.com They cannot make announcements earlier because it does not make sense to cancel or reschedule flights, then reinstate them if a strike does not go forward (which has happened).
Pharmacists: The του Πανελληνίου Φαρμακευτικού Συλλόγου (Π.Φ.Σ.), or Panhellenic Pharmacy Association (PFS), announces nationwide strikes at its website www.pfs.gr or blog. There are several local associations that can decide on separate action, including those in Athens and Piraeus.
Taxi cabs: Taxi cabs are impacted by 24-hour strikes that normally begin at 5:00, with announcements made by owners via Greek media. If public transport goes on strike, taxi companies are known to decline appointments unless you’re a regular customer, and standing on the street and/or sharing a cab will be necessary. Customers can report bad behavior by writing down the license plate number, then calling the tourist police at ‘171.’ The taxi complaint hotline was shut down due to budget cuts.
There are several individual taxi associations, with the largest in Athens and in Thessaloniki. The Athens division (SATA) posts announcements at: www.satataxi.gr. The national Pan-Hellenic Federation of Taxi Drivers and Owners, or Πανελλήνια Ομοσπονδία Επαγγελματιών Ιδιοκτητών Αυτοκινητιστών Ταξί και Αγοραίων (ΠΟΕΙΑΤΑ), sometimes posts strike information and announcements on its website: www.poeiata.gr
Teachers/Professors: Determining what schools and universities are on strike is difficult, as some classes within the same institution on the same day may go forward while others will not; and parents rarely get advance notice or are only informed after dropping off children and must go back to pick them up. Announcements are published in Greek by Greek media and occasionally by unions: a) Ομοσπονδία Λειτουργών Μέσης Εκπαίδευσης (ΟΛΜΕ), or Federation of Secondary Education Teachers (OLME) at www.olme.gr; and b) Διδασκαλική Ομοσπονδία Ελλάδας (ΔΟΕ), or Teachers Federation of Greece, at www.doe.gr
Thessaloniki transportation (OASTH): Οργανισμός Αστικών Συγκοινωνιών Θεσσαλονίκης (ΟΑΣΘ), or Thessaloniki Urban Transport Authority, oversees city and airport buses, plus the future Thessaloniki metro. Announcements are posted in Greek on its website: www.oasth.gr
Trains (TRAINOSE): TRAINΟΣΕ — formerly Οργανισμός Σιδηροδρόμων Ελλάδος (ΟΣΕ) or Hellenic Railways (OSE) until December 2008 — is an independent company overseen by the ministry of transport, which manages operations of the long-distance train network and suburban railway (proastiakos). During strikes, the train network operates on an emergency or “social needs” basis and the suburban railway stops service to the Athens airport and Piraeus port in Athens. Announcements are typically in Greek from Greek media and OASA. The company website posts only half of strikes: www.trainose.com
In the News
“The cost of 5,100 protests a year” — Kathimerini
“Athens logs 496 closures due to strikes and protests in 2010” — Kathimerini
“High cost of Athens riot vandalism” — Ta Nea
“Mayor wants Athens rallies regulated” — Kathimerini
“Police record 5,910 protests in Greece for 2011” — Ta Nea
“Who’s on strike today?” — WSJ Photo Story
“Strikes in Greece” — The Economist
“Transport workers face dismissal after participating in strike” — To Vima
The idea for this page was born from more than a decade of frustration, hearing people spread inaccurate information and living in Greece without timely notice of strikes, as the only two English-language newspapers published information the same morning of the strike or after it was over.
I first wrote individual posts in 2008 and 2009, but this proved time consuming when strike action intensified and my full-time personal and professional commitments limited how fast I could post news.
Following conversations with Easy Travel Report, a one-stop page was created. Predictably, a dozen websites and Twitter feeds copied the idea in 2010, which makes no sense in the case of Greek speakers since they already had plenty of news sources and advance warning.
Kat is a well-traveled American journalist and author who lives and works full time in Athens. To learn more, see “About Me.”
- Livingingreece.gr was created in 2007 to present meticulously researched original articles that fill a gap left by traditional media, government portals and commercial websites run by people without credentials.
- @LivinginGreece is a Twitter feed curated from recognized Greek and international news agencies to provide breaking news about Greece, plus real-time updates and insider tips mined from 15 years experience.
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