Strike brings Athens Metro to a standstill, streets gridlocked

Opposition to potential privatization
||Last Updated: 11/23/2017
Labour strike
A commuter reads a notice posted on the elevator of the closed central Syntagma square metro station during a 24-hour strike of the Athens Metro in Greece, on Oct. 26. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) — The Athens Metro came to a standstill on Thursday when workers in the Greek capital began a 24-hour strike to oppose the possible privatization of the rail operator.

The strike disrupted the daily commute for thousands of Athenians and caused gridlock on streets leading to the city centre.

Metro workers are protesting the transfer of Attiko Metro operator and other state-owned enterprises to a sovereign wealth fund set up under the latest international bailout with the EU and the IMF.

Proceeds from the fund — known as the Hellenic Corporation of Assets and Participations — will help Greece cut its debt burden and fund investments.

Privatizations have been a pillar of Greek bailouts since 2010 but have reaped poor revenues so far amid bureaucracy and opposition by politicians and unions.

Greece is aiming for 5.5 billion euros from state asset sales by 2018, when its bailout expires. Big tickets this year include the sale of a 66 per cent stake in the natural gas grid DESFA and a 67 per cent stake in the port of Thessaloniki.

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