20100629 piraeus port strike 18
Communist-affiliated strikers march through the port of Piraeus outside Athens to prevent ferries from leaving the harbor during a 24-hour general strike. L - 


Kai Ryssdal: In Greece this morning, labor unions are staging their fifth general strike of the year. The 24-hour work stoppage is affecting the country's most important industry.

Marketplace Europe correspondent Stephen Beard has more.

Stephen Beard: Thousands of workers have joined the strike -- halting ferries, buses and other public services. Their main grievance is pension reform. The Greek government is trying to cut pension benefits. On average Greek pensioners get 96 percent of their final salary.

Today's strike brought more trouble to the country's biggest port -- just as the main tourism season gets underway. Greek and foreign visitors were prevented from boarding ferries. Economics commentator John Psarapoulos, speaking from Athens.

John PSAROPOULOS: It is a huge problem because it strikes at the heart of the tourism industry which is an estimated 20 percent of GDP here. And it strikes at the heart of good day-to-day running of Greek transportation services.

The Greek Culture Ministry is so alarmed at the potential damage to tourism it's offered to reimburse fully any loss suffered by visitors. Catering and other tourist industry workers plan another 24-hour strike tomorrow.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.