By Karolina Tagaris
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek riot police stormed a train depot in Athens on Friday to disperse subway staff defying government orders to end their strike, intensifying a standoff that has paralyzed public transport in the city.
The Greek capital's subway lines remained shut for the ninth day as most subway workers continued a strike against planned wage cuts. But some were back on the job after being served the orders to return to work or face arrest.
The showdown has turned into the latest test for Greece's fragile three-party ruling coalition as it faces down powerful unions to implement austerity measures demanded by foreign lenders as the price for bailout funds.
Scuffles broke out when police forced their way through a metal gate shortly after 4 a.m. at the subway depot where 90 workers had gathered overnight in protest. Police detained at least 10 workers, an official said on condition of anonymity. One woman was taken to hospital with light injuries, he added.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's government has taken a hard line on the strike despite criticism from the smallest party in his three-party government.
"When labor action is judged illegal and abusive, the law has to be implemented. Everyone has made sacrifices and no one can ask to be made an exception," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told state TV NET on Friday.
Public anger has grown against the strike which affects more than half a million commuters in the city of 5 million people.
Other transport unions held strikes in solidarity with subway workers on Friday, leaving Athens without bus, trolley, tram and rail service and traffic jams across the city.
Subway employees oppose being included in a unified wage scheme for public sector workers drawn up under an austerity program that would slash their salaries.
Government orders to return to work, issued under emergency legislation, were being served to subway employees but many had yet to receive the notices and continued to strike, a subway union official said.
Under the emergency law meant to be used in times of war, natural disasters or for public health interests, workers can face arrest and up to five years in jail.
"Subway staff who have not received notices to return to work are participating in the 24-hour strike," Manthos Tsakos, general secretary of subway union SELMA told Reuters.
(Additional reporting by George Georgiopoulos, editing by Deepa Babington)
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