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Greek truck owners vote to end strike

By the CNN Wire Staff
Truck drivers holding Greek flags march to the Greek Parliament on Friday in Athens. They said they would maintain a strike that has caused severe fuel shortages across the country.
Truck drivers holding Greek flags march to the Greek Parliament on Friday in Athens. They said they would maintain a strike that has caused severe fuel shortages across the country.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Truck owners voted by a narrow margin to return to work
  • The drivers were striking over plans to open up their industry
  • State media: Several islands had shortages of fuel, fruits and vegetables
RELATED TOPICS
  • Greece
  • Labor Unions

Athens, Greece (CNN) -- Greek truck owners on Sunday voted to end a strike that had starved the country of fuel and dealt a severe blow to the tourist industry, according to state-run news agency ANA.

Greece's 33,000 licensed truck drivers went on strike this week to protest government plans to open up their industry and issue new licenses.

The vote to end the strike was carried by a narrow majority during the truckers' general meeting and not before serious problems had been caused to the supply of goods to markets throughout Greece.

According to the news agency, private, armed forces and requisitioned fuel tanker trucks were making good progress restocking the market with fuel. Gas stations on several Greek islands have been dry for days, and shortages of fruits and vegetables had begun, according to the news agency.

The strike began July 26 after the government unveiled a draft bill that opens up the road freight market that is currently only open to government-licensed "public use" vehicles. The last truck licenses in the country were issued by the government in the 1970s, and there has since developed an informal market in truck licenses.

The government is required to make the changes under the terms of loan packages from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The strike sparked tension in the Greek capital, where striking workers threw rocks and plastic bottles at the gates of the transport ministry Thursday, and police used tear gas to disperse the angry crowd.

The government issued a rare emergency order to the owners and drivers of the trucks to return to work Thursday, saying they face severe penalties -- including having their licenses revoked -- if they don't.

On Friday, the government said the truckers' refusal to comply with the order was "a grievous insult to law and order that harms society as a whole," the news agency reported.

Journalist Elinda Labropoulou contributed to this report.

 
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