The ITF has written to the Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, and the Minister of Shipping and Aegean, Kostas Mousouroulis, urging the government to withdraw the civil mobilisation order implemented on 5 February to order striking seamen back to work or face arrest. The strike, which started on 31 January, is over seamen’s demands for months of unpaid wages and the repeal of a draft law that weakens their union, ITF affiliate the Pan-Hellenic Seamen’s Federation.
In his letters, on 6 February, ITF acting general secretary Stephen Cotton said: “We see the issuing of a civil mobilisation order for Greek seafarers on passenger vessels as an authoritative attempt to break the fair and democratic decision to protest to defend workers’ rights. This is not the first time that the government of Greece has tried to break the Greek union movement by forcibly restricting labour rights. “The ITF sees no justified reason for the hard line held by the government against the Pan‐Hellenic Seamen’s Federation and the seafarers they represent. The unfortunate economic situation in Greece and most parts of the world cannot be taken as an excuse to wipe out the rights and the democratic process that assign to the trade unions the representation of workers in all its forms, including the right to protest.
“The ITF is very concerned that the political dialogue between the government and the workers’ representatives has been sidelined in favour of drastic measures, which will only have the detrimental effect to keep the parties involved away from a mediated solution to the problem.
“The ITF urges the Greek government to withdraw the civil mobilisation order at once and to resume negotiations with the Pan‐Hellenic Seamen’s Federation of Greece.”
The civil mobilisation order was also used by the Greek government at the end of January to break a nine-day walkout by metro workers.