EU Commissioner Warns of Severe Impact of Transport Strikes (2)
A transport workers' strike is an extreme initiative that should only be utilized as a last resort, according to European Commissioner of Transport Siim Kallas, who spoke at the annual Employers Confederation conference on Friday.
"Strikes are undoubtedly a reality, which has been an inevitable part of the social structure since the 19th century,” said Kallas. "But transport worker strikes are special [...] It is a very sharp weapon.”
Kallas said that several EU countries have taken serious steps to reduce transport worker strikes.
"The Paris subway used to go on strike as it pleased, but not any more. A subway strike in Paris would paralyze the movement of 10 million people," he said, also recalling a Spanish air traffic controllers strike that disrupted one-third of flights in Europe, after which the country enforced stricter regulations.
Friday marked the last day of Estonia's week-long wave of transport strikes - the largest in the country's postwar history.
But despite the objection of some officials and companies, others said the transport strike was a light one.
ETV reported Thursday, during the peak, that the initiative only caused minor inconveniences to commuters.
In many cases, transport workers also backed off from their initial plans to strike. Although streetcar drivers said that not a single tram would run on Thursday, at least 30 percent were actually operating. It was a similar story with trains and buses, and some drivers in the counties opted to protest with signs instead of joining the full-on strike.
Altogether, the Transport and Road Workers Union organized 16 strike events in nine Estonian cities and towns this week to support teachers' salary demands and to protest the planned amendment to the Collective Agreements Act, allowing unilateral termination of expired collective agreements.