The Panhellenic Seamen’s Union in Greece has declared a 48-hour strike protesting the government’s planned changes to labour and insurance rights, pensions and retirement ages.

The union is opposing a proposal by the government to consolidate shipping workers’ social security funds into a single national insurance body.

The Crew Union of Towage and Salvage and the Tug Boats Crew Union of Thessaloniki as well as workers employed on ferries transporting refugees and migrants will strike from today.

Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) said in a statement: "The strike is expected to affect the routes of domestic and local ferries, and commercial vessels calling at Piraeus, Aspropyrgos, Eleusis, Pachi, Megara and Thessaloniki ports for cargo discharging.

"During the stoppage period, vessels will not be able to berth, shift or sail from the affected ports.

"ISS Greece is working with its clients to minimise delays and will keep its clients updated."

"During the stoppage period, vessels will not be able to berth, shift or sail from the affected ports."

The strike would hinder bunker operations at the Piraeus port, leading to port congestion.

The Panhellenic Seamen’s Union went on strike in November and December last year, opposing the government’s anticipated austerity measures and privatisation of the country’s two major ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

Greece is likely to evaluate the Cosco Group’s offer to buy a stake in Piraeus port. Cosco is the lone bidder for a 67% stake in Piraeus Port Authority (OLP).

The sale of ports has been necessitated after a third bailout of up to €86bn agreed between Greece and other European countries in August 2015.

Image: An aerial view of the Greek port of Piraeus. Photo: courtesy of Nikolaos Diakidis.