Greek electricity workers plan anti-privatisation strikes from Wednesday

Tue Jul 1, 2014 9:26am EDT

Related Topics

* Govt plans to privatise power utility PPC as part of bailout

* Strikes begin as govt debates privatisation bill

* Govt says it won't allow strikes to hurt tourism

* Union: power is a public commodity and should be state run

ATHENS, July 1 (Reuters) - Workers at Greece's state-controlled power utility PPC will stage a series of strikes from Wednesday, in the midst of the summer tourism season, to protest government plans to privatise the firm, their union leader said.

Greece is beginning to emerge from a six-year recession and has pinned its hopes on record tourism arrivals this year to help boost its economy. The government has suggested it may force people on strike back to work if power supplies are disrupted.

"You cannot have 20 million tourists coming to the country and deprive them of air-conditioning," government spokesman Sofia Voultepsi told Greek Skai radio on Tuesday after the strike was announced.

"Unions will not take the country hostage."

Stamatis Relias, the head of PPC's biggest trade union GENOP-DEH, told Reuters that the union planned to launch 48-hour rolling strikes starting on Wednesday, as parliament is expected to begin debating a draft law allowing the government to privatise PPC in 2015, as part of Greece's EU/IMF bailout.

"We believe power is a public commodity which should remain under the state's control," Relias said.

Greece was hit by a series of public sector strikes after the government introduced stringent austerity measures in 2010 as part of its bailout programme but industrial action has been less frequent as the economy has shown signs of picking up this year.

A PPC executive, who spoke on condition on anonymity, said industrial action was not expected to disrupt power supply as there was enough production capacity to cover demand.

The unions are backed by the main leftist opposition Syriza party, which has threatened to vote against the bill in parliament. The government has said it would take "all necessary measures" to make sure the unions do not disrupt the peak tourism season.

The government owns 51 percent of PPC and plans to spin off 30 percent of the firm to a private competitor.

Greece, which is kept afloat by a 240-billion-euro bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund must pass the legislation to clear the way for its energy market liberalisation and be eligible for further rescue loans.

PPC generates about two-thirds of Greece's electricity output and controls almost 100 percent of the retail market.

It has an installed capacity of 12,800 megawatts and is also one of the world's biggest miners of lignite, a soft, brown coal used in power production and seen as a heavy environmental polluter. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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Comments (1)
An attempt to privatize a natural monopoly, that Nea Dimocractia and PASOK do not even know what it is, shows public estate corruption in GREECE again!

Troika and IMF have been proven to promote few rich people interests!

To make Gods, with only value of Money, not ethics!

This must stop worldwide, not just in Greece!

We pray to Christ to help us in Greece! Its the only hope we can get with what is going on in this country! Corruption, injustice, erasing political offenses with legal tricks!

In the Langarde List investigation Committee, in Greece, not only Mr Papakosstadinou is still Free! But, 2 members have close relatives in the list! Papakonstadinou and Voulgarakis (ex ministers also) are yet to be trialed for their funds found abroad… AND JUSTICE LEAVES ON!

If we try to turn to Europe for Work or to find a better Luck! Then we step into a Corrupted EPSO competition! Most of the procedure hiring procedure for EU personnel is based on an oral examination by HR people! So that political persons can easily get hired, even if they have substantially less qualifications, or even irrelevant qualifications to the demanded positions!

EU is doomed. So much injustice in one single US alike organization!

Jul 03, 2014 4:19am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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