Greek Taxi Drivers Clash With Police, Vow Open-Ended Strike

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Greek cab drivers clashed with police outside the transport ministry building Wednesday, vowing an open-ended taxi strike during Greece's critical tourist season.

The drivers threw stones and water bottles at police to protest recent licensing reforms that make it easier to get a taxi license and increases competition. The drivers were turned away by police at the transport ministry and were not allowed to meet with officials.

The government says the new law is fairer and creates jobs while reducing corruption. The law is part of the government's economic reform and cutback package in response to the debt crisis that nearly forced Greece into bankruptcy earlier this month. The government says the reforms are necessary under the terms of Greece's existing bailout deal. The austerity program, which includes pension and public wage cuts and tax and retirement age increases, has sparked anger around the country.

Tourism industry officials have criticized the taxi drivers for the timing of their strike. The taxi strike has caused big disruptions at airports and cruise harbors during the peak of the economically vital tourist season.

An emergency European summit is scheduled in Brussels Thursday to discuss a possible second financial bailout for Greece, on top of the international assistance it received last year. On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she did not expect the EU summit to produce a “spectacular” solution to Greece's financial problems. She said a process of steps will be needed to fix Greece's economy.