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Greek Dock Workers Walk Out Over Privatization

FILE - A dock worker with a "Not for sale" sign on his vest takes part in a protest against government plans to further privatize the harbor of Piraeus, Greece.

Greek dock workers walked out on Thursday in protest at the planned privatizations of the country's two biggest ports, a condition of a multi-billion euro bailout from international lenders.

Setting a date to submit binding bids for Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports is one of the actions that Athens needs to conclude its first bailout review and unlock more funds for its 86 billion euro bailout.

Shipping ministry officials said the industrial action did not appear to be disrupting traffic at the ports.

A statement from the dock workers' labor union vowed to avert privatizations and accused the government of attempting to sell out to "foreign owned monopolies".

"Ports should be developed by utilizing own capital, through credit facilities and tapping European Union funds," it said. Mission chiefs of lenders are in Athens to assess compliance with bailout terms.

China’s Cosco Group, Danish container terminal operator APM Terminals and Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services , which were shortlisted in an expression of interest process, have until Oct. 30 to submit binding bids for a 51 percent stake in OLP.

But Greek government officials told Reuters this month that snap parliamentary elections on Sept. 20 had held up work and the deadline would be pushed back by about 20 days.

Greece would also push back the deadline for submission of binding bids for Thessaloniki port to the end of March from early February, the head of the country's privatization agency said last weekend.

Eight firms, including APM Terminals and Russia's state railway company, have been shortlisted for the Thessaloniki port.

Privatizations have been a key part of Athens' efforts to develop its state assets and raise money to cut Greece's mountainous debt. The program has raised only 3.5 billion euros since 2011 versus an original target of 50 billion euros in the 2011-2015 periods.

Greece will miss this year's target of 1.4 billion euros in privatization receipts but a 3.7 billion euro target for next year is realistic, the head of its privatization agency told Reuters last month.