BUSINESS

Industry insiders dispute Greek power firm's plan for job cuts, rate hikes

TAGS: Energy, Privatizations

Public Power Corporation (PPC), Greece's main electricity supplier, is set to encounter strong opposition over its plan to slash jobs and raise electricity prices, industry insiders have said.

The PPC governing board has approved a business plan for the 2018-2022 period, which will cut jobs by about a third and hike electricity rates, to the dismay not only of its union, but also of market experts.

Last week, the business plan sought to pull the utility firm out of its condition in which its debts are eight to nine times as high as its operating profits.

According to the five-year plan, for PPC to revert to being sustainable in the long term, it will need to see a total of 5,860 workers depart using also a voluntary redundancy scheme, so as to become competitive again.

The utility firm will also need to raise its power rates so that it can obtain a necessary increase in revenues by 90 to 100 million euros per year.

The plan further demands the abolition of the 15 percent discount to consistent consumers who pay their bills in time.

Former PPC head Themis Xanthopoulos dismissed the plan, saying that "PPC is not overcrowded". Speaking to Xinhua, he argued that "what the company actually needs is better management of its human resources. We generally suffer in that aspect."

He adds that in many departments of the company, "such as its coal-fired plants, the existing staff only marginally covers the needs there".

The 2018-2022 business plan came as PPC was in the process of conceding two lignite-powered electricity production units at Meliti in northwestern Greece and two more at Megalopoli, in the Peloponnese.

It forms part of Greece's commitments to its creditors for opening up the local electricity market.

Xanthopoulos, also a former rector of the National Technical University of Athens, comments that the concession of the plants is not a solution, adding that such formulas have never been forced on PPC's peers in other countries.

The main PPC union (GENOP) will seek the annulment of the plants' concession by resorting to all possible forums such as the Regulatory Authority for Energy, the Competition Commission and the European Parliament, GENOP chief Giorgos Adamidis told a press conference on Thursday.

The union will have the support of the Regional Authority of Western Macedonia, according to its head, Theodoros Karypidis.

Adamidis also challenged the plan for the departure of 5,860 employees, arguing that by 2022 some 5,000 PPC staff will have retired anyway.

[Xinhua]

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