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Greek civil aviation staff to stage strike over privatization plans

Commuters walk past a departure information board indicating that all flights have been cancelled at Athens Airport on April 7, 2016, during a 24-hour strike against pension reforms. ©AFP

Workers in Greece’s civil aviation sector are set to hold a five-day industrial action to express their discontent with the government’s privatization plans aimed at reducing costs under the country’s third bailout package.

The strike, which is scheduled to be held on June 20-25, has been called by the civil aviation workers union OSYPA.

The work stoppage is expected to affect domestic and international flights in the Mediterranean country as airports will operate with emergency staff only.

Last December, the German government signed a deal, granting the German company Fraport the right to manage 14 regional airports.

Under the accord, worth EUR 1.2 billion (USD 1.35 billion), Fraport and its Greek partner, the energy firm Copelouzos, secured a 40-year lease on the airports, including those on several popular tourist islands.

The German firm is expected to start operating the airports by the end of 2016, once it gets pending approvals and technical issues are solved.

Meanwhile, latest reports say Greek authorities are considering offering concessions for 23 other airports in the European country.

A woman sleeps on a bench in a deserted departures hall at Athens Airport on April 7, 2016, during a 24-hour strike against pension reforms. ©AFP

OSYPA, which represents about 1,200 workers, voiced concerns about the reports, saying that such a move would result in job losses.

"The privatization agency proceeds with the sell-off of the remaining ... regional airports aiming, as its charter stipulates, to shut the ones that will not be sold," the union said in a statement.

"We really wonder whether politicians and local communities have realized what the closure(s) ...will mean,” the statement added.

The developments come at a time that port workers have been on 48-hour rolling strikes since late May to denounce the sale of Greece's two largest ports in Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

Workers at state railways operator TRAINOSE have also been holding actions against its privatization and are expected to hold a 24-hour walk-out on June 22.

Last July, Greece signed a deal with its lenders – the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – to receive a EUR 86-billion bailout in exchange for fresh austerity reforms.

The agreement triggered outrage from Greeks, who argue that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came to power on an anti-austerity platform.

Greece has already received two bailouts in 2010 and 2012, worth a total of EUR 240 billion from its creditors following the economic crisis in the Southeast European country back in 2009.

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