ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Public and some private sector workers walked off the job in Greece Wednesday during a 24-hour nationwide strike against price hikes that was disrupting services and transport around the country.
Ferries remained tied up in port, severing connections to Greece’s islands, while taxis in the Greek capital stayed off the streets. No buses or trolleys were running in Athens, while only one of the three subway lines was operational, running a limited service until the afternoon.
Flight traffic controllers had been due to participate in the strike with a six-hour work stoppage but had to reverse that decision late Tuesday after a court deemed their participation illegal. However, airlines had already canceled dozens of flights, which they were unable to reschedule at the last minute.
Passengers arriving at Athens’ international airport found themselves with extremely limited options to get into town, as neither buses, regular taxis nor the subway nor the suburban railway were running. Crowds gathered at car rental agencies at the airport, while others tried to leave on inter-city buses which were the only form of public transport still running.
State-run schools were shut, while public hospitals were running with reduced staff and no news bulletins were running on private or state-run media as local journalists joined the strike.
“Workers along with unions are fighting against increased prices that are drowning Greek households,” said GSEE, a confederation of private sector trade unions, citing price hikes for energy and basic goods. Unions called for an increase in the minimum wage, currently just over 700 euros (dollars) per month for salaried workers, and bolder measures to tackle inflation, which stood at 12% in September.
Protest marches were planned for central Athens, with the main public and private sector trade unions due to start their demonstrations at 11 a.m., while the communist party-affiliated union planned its march half an hour earlier.