Fuel crisis as Greek truckers step up strike

Greece's government on Wednesday called crisis talks to deal with a nationwide fuel crisis as a truckers' strike entered its third day at the height of the busy tourism season.

Fuel has run out in all but a few of the capital's petrol stations and shortages are already reported in many major cities.

The transport ministry has invited union leaders to talks to break the deadlock which began over plans to liberalise the freight sector.

The truckers say that opening the sector by reducing new licence charges is unfair to existing operators who have already paid high start-up fees running up to 300,000 euros (390,000 dollars).

"The state sold us these licences, so the state should compensate us," the head of the truckers' union George Tsamos told Flash Radio.

The protest has had a major impact on the country's tourism season which is vital to the Greek economy as it battles an unprecedented financial crisis.

Hoteliers on Wednesday said they were already facing cancellations from vacationers unwilling to risk the journey until the protest ends.

"We have started receiving an important number of cancellations," said Nikos Papalexis, the head of the Achaia hoteliers union in the northwestern Peloponnese peninsula.

"If this situation continues, a lot of hotels will have to dismiss staff or even shut down," he told state television NET.

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