The government on Thursday forced the departure of the chief executive officer of the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA), Dimitris Tzortzis.
This marked a new zenith in tensions between the Energy Ministry and the utility’s management concerning the “labor issue” that started with the processing of the plan for breaking up and privatizing the company, and the personal pledge of minister Giorgos Stathakis to make 140 contract workers at the corporation permanent.
Worried about the impact of the management’s recourse to justice against the strike that is now in its third week, and with the general election just over five weeks away, Stathakis asked Tzortzis to resign on Thursday.
The lawsuit against the strike was filed by two contractor companies, on the orders of DEPA, according to a statements by the Pan Hellenic Energy Federation.
Stathakis is also blaming DEPA’s board for the legal action, with sources saying that the minister first asked Tzortzis for the lawsuit to be withdrawn and then – upon his refusal – called for his departure.
In anticipation of the court decision, due on Friday, the hot potato has been passed on to DEPA chairman Velissarios Dotsis, who will temporarily also assume the duties of the CEO.
The objective at this point is to have the industrial action stopped, as it has created serious public transport problems with the suspension of refueling for gas-powered buses.
In a strong-worded letter to Tzortzis last week, the CEO of bus and trolley bus operator OSY, Georgios Glafkos, had demanded the DEPA chief’s intervention so that the refueling of buses could revert to normal. He noted that the strike is generating losses of 250,000 euros a day for OSY.
In this context, one of the possible solutions being examined to overcome the problem provides for granting DEPA workers certain benefits in exchange for the termination of the strike, as the workers’ union knows that their demand for dozens of employees to be made permanent at DEPA cannot be satisfied ahead of the election.