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Greek Ferry Seamen Extend 6-day Strike

The strike has already had an impact on islanders, many of whom rely on the mainland for basic everyday supplies. An island trade and commerce association warned that the seamen's walkout poses a substantial threat to small businesses in the archipelago, which already face severe pressure due to Greece's three-year financial crisis.

The Cyclades chamber of commerce said Tuesday that the strike had led to shortages in goods, prevented treatment of serious health cases and even stopped the transportation of dead bodies for burial.

"We demand that you understand, and this is no overstatement, that the limits of what we can bear and tolerate have been exceeded," a statement said.

In a separate statement, the country's national trade federation warned that the strike had left large numbers of trucks loaded with goods trapped in the country's main ports.

The civil mobilization law, amended in 2007 to deal with "peacetime emergencies," has now been used ten times since the 1974 collapse of a military dictatorship in Greece â¿¿ three of those in anti-austerity strikes over the past two years.

Greece's biggest labor union, the GSEE, deplored the government's use of what it called an "extreme, undemocratic measure."

"Instead of trying to find a solution to seamen's problems and end shipowners' provocative intransigence, the government is making a show of strength against the wrong people," a GSEE statement said.

Main opposition Radical Left Coalition spokesman Panayiotis Lafazanis said ferry crews were left with no choice but to step up their fight.

"You cannot stop workers' protests by dressing them in army uniforms," he said.

Greek unions have held a wave of protests to protest the harsh austerity measures taken since 2010 to secure vital international rescue loans. The repeated income cuts and tax hikes deepened a recession already in its sixth year, amid soaring unemployment that has left more than 26 percent of the workforce without a job.

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