In Brief

PPC union threatens rolling 24-hour strikes over market deregulation The main labor union at electricity utility PPC threatened yesterday to launch rolling 24-hour strikes, which could lead to blackouts, in opposition to a planned liberalization of the energy market. The government last week announced new draft bills for the energy sector, including a bill to liberalize the electricity market, following repeated calls from the European Union for Greece to open its market to greater competition. PPC’s powerful main union, GENOP, has said it plans a series of 24-hour strikes. This week it also embarked on an overtime ban as well as refusing to work on Sundays and public holidays. «If the government does not satisfy our demands for changes to the draft bill, then with its submission to Parliament, possibly next week, we will proceed with 24-hour strikes, which will cause severe problems to the whole grid,» union president Nikos Pilalidis told Reuters. The proposed bill includes the creation of an independent company to manage the energy transfer system and licenses for private individuals to act as energy suppliers. The bill also provides for tenders for the creation of a total of 900 megawatts of capacity from new power stations, in which PPC cannot participate, to help encourage new players to enter the electricity market, bolstering competition. PPC’s unions also fear that the utility’s 27,700 employees will see their work and pension rights eroded and may have more restrictive contracts enforced on them. They are also calling for more workers to be hired. PPC unions also fear that the utility may be broken up into smaller units, effectively diminishing their negotiating strength. (Reuters) Turkish industrial production rise better than expected ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish industrial production rose 8.3 percent year on year in August, the State Statistics Institute (DIE) announced yesterday, exceeding economists’ predictions of a 4.75 percent rise. Economists had said in a Reuters poll that output growth would be supported by recovering sales of white goods and automobiles and a low base effect. Output fell by 0.3 percent in July 2005 and was 8.1 percent higher in August 2004, previously announced data show. The DIE said production in utilities jumped 9.8 percent, while output in the mining and manufacturing sectors rose 3.6 percent and 8.2 percent respectively. In the first eight months of the year, the average monthly rise in production was 4.3 percent, compared with an increase of 12.6 percent in the same period last year. Turkey posted high economic growth of 9.9 percent in 2004 but the growth was especially concentrated in the first half and slowed somewhat in the later months of the year, causing a low base effect. First meeting The first meeting of the newly founded Greek-Serbian Business Council will take place on October 21, at the King George II Hotel in Syntagma Square, Council representatives announced yesterday. The session will be attended by Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and Serbia’s Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Milan Parivodic. The Council already has 50 members; Symeon Tsomokos is acting president.