Taxi owners pledge to fight to 'bitter end'

Taxi owners will fight "to the bitter end" in order to foil the government's plans to liberalise the taxi sector warned the head of the Attica taxi owners' association (SATA) Thymios Lymberopoulos on Wednesday, during an otherwise peaceful protest held by striking taxi owners and public transport workers outside the transport ministry.

    Having received the ministry's assurances that dialogue on the details of the proposed deregulation will continue, Lymberopoulos said that he hoped that "they are telling the truth this time" and stressed that taxi owners have a series of "non-negotiable" demands.

    These include the right to legally sell taxi licences, that there be no reduction in the districts, that no new licences are issued and that any companies formed are created based on the existing licences.

    Lymberopoulos warned that taxi owners will also fight hoteliers that attempted to set up their own taxi firms that "they would be fored to leave Greece and be unable to run them" and said the minister would have to "pass over 50,000 dead bodies" in order to pass the draft bill in its present form.

    The federation would seek to join forces with other professional groups such as lawyers, pharmacists and engineers that were faced with the deregulation of their profession in order to create a single, powerful front against the government's plans or to overthrow the current government, he added.

    In recent statements concerning the deregulation of transport sectors, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Yiannis Ragoussis had underlined the government's determination to fully deregulate all road transport, including taxis and hired trucks, with rules that would discourage the formation of cartels.

    The protest outside the ministry coincided with an all-day strike by taxis, Greek railways and all Athens public transport, except privately run intercity buses (KTEL).

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