Strike over labour reform disrupts transport in Greece

The walkout sidelined ferry services
The walkout sidelined ferry services ARIS MESSINIS AFP
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Athens (AFP)

Greece on Thursday was gripped by a 24-hour nationwide strike which shut down transport and public services over labour reforms which critics say will formalise unpaid overtime.

The walkout sidelined ferry services and trains, forced flight rescheduling and snarled most public transport in Athens.

Public services shut down and state media also went offline for the day.

Separate demonstrations are scheduled in the capital and other major cities during the day.

The government says the reform -- to be put to a vote in parliament next week -- introduces optional working hour flexibility, sets rules on remote work and includes safeguards against workplace sex harassment.

Labour Minister Costis Hatzidakis has said the new rules allow staff to negotiate with management the option of working more hours during part of the year, and subsequently take more time off.

But unions and opposition parties say it formalises overtime exploitation by employers, especially large businesses, which has already been going on for years.