PPC workers threaten action

Gas stations were able to start serving customers yesterday as truck drivers returned to work but there was no letup in the pressure on the government as Public Power Corporation (PPC) unionists said that they are prepared to «go to extremes» in their opposition to plans to sell off 40 percent of PPC's power plants. The government is being pressed by European Union and International Monetary Fund officials to privatize some of its electricity production units in order to increase competition in the market. However, the GENOP union, which is a federation of the groups representing PPC workers, has said that it will oppose any move to sell off power plants. The extent to which the unionists are prepared to take their opposition was made clear yesterday in a statement issued by GENOP's president Nikos Fotopoulos, which was also sent by text message to MPs. «Our struggle is not for us, it is for the consumer, and that is why we will go to extremes. We will bleed,» he said. «This represents the view of all workers, who were until recently your comrades,» Fotopoulos added in a barbed comment aimed at PASOK deputies. The Socialist party has traditionally had close ties with GENOP. Asked to comment on the future of PPC, Deputy Defense Minister Panos Beglitis adopted a conciliatory approach. «Of course we have to make changes, but I think we should not get carried away and make them quickly,» he told Skai TV. «PPC is not just any public utility.» The government expects GENOP's protests to become more forceful as of September, when privatization plans will be fleshed out. This will be when the bill liberalizing the road freight sector will also be submitted to Parliament and PASOK hopes to have reached an agreement with the truckers by then. Despite returning to work, the drivers are hoping that they can convince Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas to give them more than just pension or tax concessions in the final draft of the bill.