Striking seamen and activists from the communist-affiliated trade union PAME march through the port of Piraeus near Athens February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Striking seamen and activists from the communist-affiliated trade union PAME march through the port of Piraeus near Athens February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek ships sailed again from the busy ports of Piraeus and Rafina on Wednesday after the government ordered seamen to end a six-day strike that cut off dozens of islands from the mainland and caused food shortages.

Eager to show international lenders it is facing down powerful unions and sticking with hated reforms and wage cuts, this is the second time in two weeks that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s government has taken such action to break a strike.

Shipping Minister Costis Mousouroulis gave the order late on Tuesday and coastguard officials served the strikers with military-style marching orders threatening them with arrest. Riot police were also deployed to the busy port of Piraeus.

“We strongly denounce and condemn the order, which is undemocratic and unconstitutional,” the seamen’s union, PNO, said in a statement, vowing further strike action once a draft law that weakens their union goes to parliament.

The seamen, who are demanding months of unpaid wages and the repeal of the law, planned to march to the shipping ministry later on Wednesday. The PNO has more influence on passenger shipping than ocean-going tankers and cargo vessels.

Seamen planned a further 48-hour strike before the government threatened them with arrest. Under the law, workers are forcibly mobilised in cases of civil disorder, natural disaster or health risks to the public.

The law was invoked last month to end a nine-day walkout by subway workers that paralysed public transport in the capital. (Reporting by John Kolesidis; Writing by Karolina Tagaris; editing by Patrick Graham)

(c) 2013 Thomson Reuters, Click For Restrictions

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