Strike brings Greece to a standstill

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Mike Knowles



Strike brings Greece to a standstill

A blockade by farmers has brought supply lines to a halt, affecting the whole of Greece and neighbouring countries like Bulgaria

Strike brings Greece to a standstill

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A national blockade by thousands of farmers in Greece has brought the country to a virtual standstill, with major road links severed and tonnes of food, including fresh fruit and vegetables, reportedly left to rot in lorries.

German weekly Fruchthandel reported that the volume of produce on supermarket shelves was understood to be diminishing.

According to news reports, the blocking of around 70 roads has left the capital city Athens cut off from the port city of Thessaloniki and is preventing traffic from crossing from and into neighbouring Bulgaria, Macedonia and Turkey.

Cristina Manossis, general manager of Zeus Kiwi, told Fruitnet that the delay was causing some fruit deliveries to be delayed by up to five hours.

"It's been very difficult to supply our domestic customers in Greece and exports are becoming difficult as well because the strikers delay the permittance of our deliveries for hours," she said.

"This has affected the entire Greek fresh produce sector and it's going to hurt our business and cost us money."

According to reports, queues of lorries many miles long were said to be building up at the Bulgarian border.

Bulgaria relies on Greece for much of its fresh produce imports. As a result, Bulgarian supermarkets have seen significant price increases, said Fruchthandel, with distributors reporting heavy losses due to the transport delays.

The disruption has been engineered by protesting farmers who are unhappy with the alleged failure of successive Greek governments to modernise the country's agricultural system, despite EU handouts.

Representatives of the country's farming groups have rejected a €500m government funding package, demanding tax rebates and interest free loans.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria has called on the European Commission to act, arguing that the protests are preventing its products reaching key markets in Greece.

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