PPC showdown looms as union threatens rolling strikes

The coalition may issue civil mobilization orders if unions carry through with their threat to go on strike from midnight on Wednesday in protest at the government’s plans to sell off part of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) to private investors.

“Unionists cannot intervene in the government’s strategic decisions,” said government spokesperson Sofia Voultepsi. “They do not own PPC and electricity, they do not have the right to turn the switches off, this would be sabotage against the state.”

She added that the government would take “any measures” needed to prevent the unionists forcing blackouts across the country.

New Democracy secretary Andreas Papamimikos was blunter in his assessment of what measures the government is prepared to take to prevent any disruption to the provision of electricity over the summer.

“I do not want to believe that the unions would reach the point where they flick off the switches,” he told Skai Radio. “I don’t know what the government’s decision will be but I believe that it has to take this right to the end, to civil mobilization.”

The government has turned to civil mobilization orders in the past to force teachers and public transport workers back to work.

Despite the threats from the GENOP-DEI and Spartakos unions representing PPC workers, the discussion of the bill for the part-privatization of the electricity firm is due to begin at committee level in Parliament on Wednesday. Sources told Kathimerini that the coalition is confident it can win the political argument over the creation of the so-called “small PPC.” The government will argue that it has to break up the PPC monopoly to comply with European Union regulations rather than to meet a bailout condition. Also, the government will stress that the investor, who will take on 30 percent of PPC’s current customers, will be bound to invest further in the new company and keep current employees on for a minimum of five years. The money raised by the sale will go toward covering PPC’s deficit.

Nevertheless, SYRIZA has thrown its full weight behind the protests and is due to visit a hydroelectric power station in Florina, northern Greece, on Wednesday. SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis said that if PPC is privatized, a leftist government would nationalize it again.