Coalition poised to force strike over electricity sell-off to end

A court was expected to rule on Friday night on whether a strike by Public Power Corporation (PPC) workers was legal, with the government ready to issue civil mobilization orders to end the employees’ actions, which has led to power cuts in some parts of Greece.

Government sources told Kathimerini that everything was in place for the orders forcing the members of the GENOP-DEI union to return to their posts, which they abandoned at midnight on Wednesday in protest at the coalition’s attempt to sell off just under a third of the state electricity monopoly to private investors.

After an appeal by PPC’s management, the Athens Court of First Instance was due to decide whether the unionists’ strike could be deemed illegal and abusive.

The legislation paving the way for the creation of the so-called “small PPC” to be privatized passed through a parliamentary committee on Friday. MPs from PASOK and New Democracy approved the legislation but all the opposition parties voted against it.

This may have given hope to SYRIZA and its bid to form an alliance to push for a referendum on whether to sell off part of PPC. To trigger a parliamentary debate and vote on the idea of a plebiscite, SYRIZA needs to have the backing of 120 MPs. Given that it has only 71 lawmakers, the support of other opposition parties and independent MPs is needed if its initiative is to get off the ground.

So far Independent Greeks and five independent lawmakers have said they will support the proposal for a referendum. Democratic Left is also likely to support the move. However, the Communist Party has rejected the option, saying it would only vote for a referendum that allowed voters to oppose all forms of liberalization in the energy sector.

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is expected to make a fresh effort to reach out to other opposition parties next week. The coalition, however, continued to dismiss his chances of being able to create a united front.

“Mr Tsipras cannot keep in check or impose himself on his own party but he hopes he can lead all the opposition parties, leading them to political suicide,” said government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi.