What the railway needs (security systems, remote control etc) already exists in the metro, since it started operating.
In the popular 1965 Greek political satire “A Matter of Earnestness” (“Iparche kai filotimo”), Andreas Mavrogialouros, an ornamental minister, visits his constituency to inaugurate an obstetrical clinic. While there, he discovers that his associates have been fooling him for years, using state funds to enrich themselves. In one scene, Mavrogialouros is suddenly attacked by a mustachioed local man. As he fends off the attack and dusts off his jacket, he asks him, “Why the hell did you attack me out of the blue?” And the man responds, “Wish I knew.”
The residents of Attica must address the same question to the public sector union ADEDY, which is on strike Wednesday. Specifically, to the unionists of the city’s metro, “Why did you inconvenience 4 million residents in Athens for an accident of another organization in Tempe?” The unannounced strike was called at midnight, an hour after the clash, for 6 a.m. Thursday.
According to the announcement of the metro workers union, “our union mourns together with the whole of society… Dozens of our fellow citizens were lost and as many were injured at the altar of private profit and the indifference of those in charge. For years now, our union has been complaining about huge shortages in materials, spare parts, maintenance consumables and the huge lack of staff for all operation and maintenance specialties, which force the existing staff to exhausting working hours, with all that this entails. Our problems are similar to [the state-owned Hellenic Railways Organization] OSE… [We strike] for all the above reasons, wanting the fatal accident that happened to be the last. We express our indignation and declare a strike…”
We share the union’s lament, “along with the whole of society.” We are certain there are some shortages in the metro as well – after all, there are shortages everywhere. But the trade unionists are lying when they say that “our problems are similar to those of OSE.” What the railway needs (security systems, remote control etc) already exists in the metro, since it started operating.
The strikes called by the employees of railway operator Hellenic Train and other railway organizations are justified. After all, their colleagues have been in the line of fire since the accident. But why should ADEDY, or the metro unionists, add inconvenience to the mourning of millions of Greeks? Are they something like the professional wailers who once roamed the villages from one funeral to another, or like the mustachioed man in the movie who jumps in whenever there’s a fight?
Of course, if everything stops (such as trucks and ships, where the number of accidents shows a lower safety standard than the metro) the strike makes sense. In a frozen country, without transport, “the fatal accident will be the last.”
Published in eKathimerini.com 8.3.2023