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Agoudimos speaks out

Gerasimos Agoudimos, the major stakeholder in GA Ferries<.>, directed barbs in various directions during a press conference last week…

Gerasimos Agoudimos, the major stakeholder in GA Ferries , directed barbs in various directions during a press conference last week  concerning industry developments.
He criticised Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis and the port authority for favourable treatment of Attica Enterprises, to the detriment of Minoan Flying Dolphins (MFD) and GA Ferries.
He said MFD had been targeted in particular while he queried whether it was within EU plans to sell off the Greek passenger ferry industry.
Agoudimos noted that Strintzis did not provide a service for isolated islands with its new Blue Star Ithaki but instead obtained a licence to ferry passengers from Rafina to Cycladic isles. He said that if, by September 30, Strintzis does not take up the services it had sought, then MFD will cease undertaking unprofitable routes.
As for the issue of doubling the number of staff during peak periods, Agoudimos said this would not occur this year. As a result, he said, the number of scheduled departures had to decrease.
Papoutsis responded by saying that the reduction in services only concerned one company, and more specifically, four high-speed passenger vessels. “What concerns us is the citizens, the passenger who wants to go on holiday after a year of hard work… He must not be piled onto the ship but be provided with a high quality of services and safety, in particular,” he said.
Papoutsis said it was inhumane to have staff on ships working 17- and 18-hour shifts as high-speed vessels did not have facilities allowing employees to rest. He said the boats operated continuously and such labour practices were a threat to health and safety.
The dispute between his ministry and ferry lines concerned one single hour, he said. The government had sought an eight-hour shift plus two hours of overtime and one extra hour in the case of emergencies while ferry operators had demanded a total of 12 hours.
On the other hand, MFD is considering whether to raise the Greek or EU flag on its new vessels.
The company has forwarded a letter to Papoutsis and the port authority chairman concerning the problems being caused by the decision to reduce staff working hours to 10 hours per day.

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