Others were angered by the disruption the eight-day strike was having on their work.

"It's turned my life into a nightmare," said Sophia Economopoulou, who works for a mobile phone company handing out promotional phone cards to commuters. "You understand the nature of our work depends on the metro. So my nerves are on edge."

The government has insisted there can be no exceptions to the new public sector pay scales, which is part of spending cuts been imposed in order to meet fiscal requirements by international creditors in return for much-needed bailout loans. The loans' conditions have deepened the country's economic hardship â¿¿ Greece is in a sixth year of recession, with unemployment spiraling to above 26 percent.

"The Greek people have made sacrifices. Huge sacrifices. And I cannot allow exceptions," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said. "Besides, public transport doesn't belong to unions. It belongs to the people, who have the right to use it and not to be inconvenienced from morning to night."

"So let everyone understand it: the mistakes of the past will not be repeated."

Unions and the main opposition party, the radical left Syriza, responded to the mobilization order with outrage, saying it was reminiscent of a military dictatorship.

"They have declared martial law against the workers. Problems cannot be resolved with martial law," said Syriza lawmaker Panagiotis Lafazanis.

Separately, a seamen's union announced a 48-hour ferry strike starting next Thursday to protest recent changes in labor laws that will allow more employees to be hired on short-term contracts.


Efty Katsareas in Athens contributed.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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