October 26, 2017 / 8:28 AM / 3 years ago

Strike brings Athens Metro to a standstill, streets gridlocked

A commuter reads a notice at the closed entrance of the central Syntagma square metro station during a 24-hour strike of the Athens Metro, Greece, 26 October 2017. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - The Athens Metro came to a standstill on Thursday when workers in the Greek capital began a 24-hour strike to oppose the possible privatization of the rail operator.

The strike disrupted the daily commute for thousands of Athenians and caused gridlock on streets leading to the city center.

Metro workers are protesting the transfer of Attiko Metro operator and other state-owned enterprises to a sovereign wealth fund set up under the latest international bailout with the EU and the IMF.

Proceeds from the fund, known as the Hellenic Corporation of Assets and Participations, will help Greece cut its debt burden and fund investments.

Privatizations have been a pillar of Greek bailouts since 2010 but have reaped poor revenues so far amid bureaucracy and opposition by politicians and unions.

Greece is aiming for 5.5 billion euros from state asset sales by 2018, when its bailout expires. Big tickets this year include the sale of a 66 percent stake in the natural gas grid DESFA and a 67 percent stake in the port of Thessaloniki.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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