Taxi owners on Tuesday decided to escalate labour action in view of the tough stance adopted by the Infrastructure, Transport and Networks ministry, announcing an indefinite strike.
The decision was taken by the taxi-owners' association SATA late on Tuesday afternoon and overturned an earlier decision to prolong the strike by just 24 hours, until 5:00 a.m. on Thursday.
An announcement on SATA's website dismissed news reports that the strike will end on Friday as unfounded and untrue.
"The 48-hour warning strike will continue indefinitely since there has been no change and no meeting with the appropriate ministry," the announcement said, noting that the strike will continue and, for the time being, had no specific termination date.
The association apologised to the public for being unable to cover its transport needs and said that a minimum number of vehicles throughout the country will be on call at taxi companies, available for phone bookings in the case of medical emergencies only.
Gov’t on taxi owners' strike
Government spokesman Elias Mossialos on Tuesday provided the government's full backing to Infrastructures, Transport & Networks Minister Yiannis Ragoussis’ handling of the ongoing taxi owners’ industrial action.
Mossialos stressed that the minister “voices the government’s position” and called on all political parties to clearly state if they are in favour or against the liberalisation of so-called "closed professions". He also invited parties to take a stand as regards the consequences of the taxi strike on the country’s economy, considering that it takes place in tourism high season.
The government spokesman also said that the taxi union federation's stance is “irresponsible”, stressing that its representatives requested a meeting with Ragoussis on Friday, only to call a strike the next day.
Taxi owners march to parliament
Striking taxi drivers staged a protest demonstration on Tuesday morning outside the federation of Attica taxi owners' unions (SATA) headquarters in downtown Athens, off Omonia Square, and from there marched on foot to parliament, in protest of the government's decision to fully liberalise the profession and lift all restrictions on the number of taxi licences issued.
Taxi owners in Athens also plan to demonstrate outside the Infrastructures, Transport and Networks Ministry on Wednesday.
SATA president Thymios Lymberopoulos said that the taxi owners would launch an indefinite strike if the ministry remained unwavering in its positions.
Similar demonstrations were held Tuesday in other cities throughout Greece.
The clash between taxi owners and government has scaled into a head-on collision following new Infrastructures, Transport and Networks minister Yiannis Ragoussis' decision to proceed immediately with full deregulation of the profession, disregarding a Presidential Decree that was being advanced by his predecessor at the ministry, Dimitris Reppas, with which the cab owners had agreed.