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September 3rd 2018 Greek seamen strike: know your rights


Greek ferries will remain docked at the country’s ports on Monday, 3 September, after the Panhellenic Seamen’s Union (PNO) representing the country’s seamen called a 24-hour strike following fruitless talks with ship operators to pay a 5 percent wage increase. The PNO claims that there has been no wage increase for eight years, while ferry owners counter that they have not reduced wages for their crews during the crisis, unlike other sectors.

The suspension of services will affect 180,000 passengers.

When will seamen be on strike?

The strike will start Monday 3rd September, at 6.00 am local time and last for one day. Notwithstanding, it is really possible that it will be extended (updated August 30, 2018).

Which ferry company is affected?

Based on the information available, all the ferry carriers are involved. it is therefore very likely that if you were to travel on Monday by ferry, your trip will be cancelled.

How to check if my ferry is affected?

The first solution is to call your travel agent or the carrier to get more information as to whether your particular trip is cancelled. You can also check online. Some ferry companies have already started to reach out to passengers and some of you have received sms or calls.

What are my options if my ferry trip is cancelled?

If your cruise or ferry crossing is cancelled or delayed, the EU Regulation (n°1177/2010) provides that you are entitled to compensation depending on the seriousness of the delay. You’ll also have the right to “care and assistance” as well as a choice between a refund and re-routing to your final destination.

  • The refund option If your ferry is cancelled on September 3rd 2018, you can decide not to travel and obtain a full refund in exchange. The greek carrier must refund you the full ticket price within 7 days of the request and at no point should it demand that you accept vouchers instead of cash.

  • The re routing option If your ferry is cancelled on September 3rd 2018, you are entitled, should you indeed wish to continue your journey, to be rerouted to your final destination at no additional cost to you. The route taken must be somewhat comparable to what was originally booked and the company should make sure that you arrive as soon as possible. Defining "as soon as possible" has sometimes proved problematic, as some shipping companies propose alternative routes days before or after the initial arrival date. If you're travelling on vacation, this is obviously not ideal. Do not hesitate to inform the carrier about your vacation plans as soon as possible and let them know what expenses or costs will be associated which such cancellation if no rerouting is made in comparable transport conditions in a reasonable delay.

Rebooking yourself: the pros and cons

If the greek maritime carrier cannot offer a satisfactory rebooking plan, you may consider rebooking yourself. Rebooking yourself is very appealing because it might save your travel plans. If you decide to do that, note that in order to claim a full refund of your new tickets, you will need to prove that the company did not offer a reasonable rerouting option.

Weclaim’s worldclass legal travel experts therefore advise that you wait for the company to communicate - in writing - any offer they have first and then book yourself if their offers are not satisfactory. If you rebook yourself, you will be entitled to claim a refund of the rerouting solution (minus the refund if already refunded by the company, if applicable).

Conclusion: It is a risky strategy to book yourself and look for reimbursement later if you haven’t written evidence that the company failed to offer an alternative flight “under comparable transport conditions, to your final destination, in a reasonable delay.

What if I am stuck overnight while awaiting for my rerouting flight?

In the event that you are stuck in Greece during the September 3rd seamen strike, you are entitled to some kind of assistance. This right exists whether you’re making your way on a cruise, a ferry crossing, boat or otherwise.

  • Food and Drink : You’ll be happy to know whilst you’re forced to wait around following the Greek seamen strike, the Greek shipping company must also take care of all your refreshment needs.
  • Accommodation: Has your departure been delayed until September 4th? Don’t worry: the Greek shipping company must offer to pay for the hotel of your choice, at a maximum rate of 80€ per night (about £74) per passenger and for a maximum of 3 nights.
  • Transport: If you’re re-routed and eventually forced to spend a night in a hotel, the shipping company is obligated to pay your transportation fees from the port to the hotel, and vice versa.

Can I claim the EU 1177 compensation if my ferry is cancelled due to Greek seamen’s strike?

Yes, you can.

Internal strikes are considered extraordinary circumstances under the EU case law precedents.

The September 3rd 2018 seamen’s strike being an internal strike, you are entitled to EU1177 compensation, ranging from 25 to 50% of your ticket price.

Please find here the exact compensation table.

The Greek ferry company cancelled my trip - can I cancel my accommodation?

If you have booked a hotel, an Airbnb, a villa or any other type of accommodation independently of your travel arrangements (i.e not as part of a package holiday), any cancellation of such accomodation is governed by the terms and conditions that apply to your booking.

Do your best to persuade them to give you a refund or rebook for a later date, but note that they are under no obligation to do this and you may lose your money.

What about package holidays?

Pursuant to Directive EU 2015/2302 of the European parliament and of the council of 25 November 2015, those of you heading to Greece on package holidays should be looked after by their tour operator. The EU 2015/2302 Directive provides that the tour operator is legally obliged to provide the services and therefore get you to your final destination. If a significant proportion of your vacation plans cannot be provided due to the September 3rd, 2018 seamen strike, the tour operator has to offer, at no extra cost, suitable alternative arrangement; If the proposed alternative arrangements result in a package of lower quality you are entitled to a price reduction. If the tour operator does not remedy the travel disruption within a reasonable period set by you, you may do so yourself and request reimbursement of the necessary expenses.

If you end up sustaining any damage as a result of the September 3rd, 2018 Greek seamen strike you are entitled to cash compensation from the tour operator. Compensation has to be paid without undue delay. Note that your right to compensation or price reduction under the Directive EU 2015/2302 does not affect your rights under Regulation EU 1177. You are entitled to present claims under this Directive and under the EU 1177.

Note that compensation or price reduction granted under Directive EU 2015/2302 and the compensation granted under Regulation EU 1177 shall be deducted from each other in order to avoid overcompensation.

Be aware of the deadlines: the limitation period for introducing claims under Directive EU 2015/2302 depends on the country having jurisdiction to hear your case but it will never be less than two years.

by Frédéric PELOUZE, Weclaim Founder and Director

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