Striking dockworkers clash with police (Piraeus-Thessaloniki, 11/1/2008)

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"Riot police clashed with striking dockworkers Friday during a protest against the planned privatization of container terminal facilities at the port of Piraeus.

There were no arrests. Protest organizers said four protesters were injured.

Police fired tear gas to disperse about 500 dockworkers at the entrance to the port - Greece's largest - when a delegation of strikers tried to breach a cordon to negotiate with harbor officials. Protesters responded by throwing stones, and set rubbish bins on fire.

Dockworkers held a 24-hour strike Friday and have called a two-day strike for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Last month, Merchant Marine Minister George Voulgarakis said the conservative government would launch a bidding process for the management contract of two of the three container wharfs in Piraeus, and for the entire container terminal in the northern port of Thessaloniki. The bidding will be completed by June.

Piraeus is among the 10 largest ports in Europe, and the largest port in commercial traffic in the eastern Mediterranean.

Dubai Ports World, Cosco Pacific Ltd. (1199.HK), AP Moeller Maersk AS, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (0013.HK) and Zim Lines have all expressed interest in the privatization, according to Greek media reports.

The government scrapped a similar privatization effort in 2006 following weeks of disruptive dock protests."

According to reports at there were more than 1.500 strikers and were also attacked by the special forces groups with their faces covered, and bang/flash grenades were launched against them.

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