ECONOMY

Hotel jobs safe during renovation

Employees at the Athens Hilton Hotel will not lose their jobs during renovations to upgrade the luxury hotel for the 2004 Olympics, the Labor Ministry announced yesterday. The Hilton will be the first of several Athens hotels to be closed for a period of several months for renovations and upgrading. The exact timetable was not provided. According to the agreement, Athens Hilton employees will receive 78 percent of their salary while the hotel undergoes renovation. The hotel’s management undertakes to rehire all employees and promises that up to 20 percent more jobs will be available once it resumes operation. Many of its current employees will be used in the renovation work. All employees’ social security contributions will be paid by the hotel’s management. Employees at the Grand Bretagne Hotel are engaged in similar negotiations. The Labor Ministry said it was hopeful that a similar agreement would be reached within the next 10 days. Politics rather than national sentiments or corporate good will has kept Greek state carrier Olympic Airways up in the air for far longer than is logical. Government officials have said privately that the bankrupt company has no choice but to find a buyer or fold. And yet the sell-off process that started last year continues to get one extension after another as the government shies away from the consequences of closing a loss-making company intricately linked to pork barrel politics.