OTE union claims strike success

Workers at Greek telecoms group OTE staged a 24-hour strike yesterday to protest against planned changes they say will affect job security, as well as the group’s further privatization. OTE, 38.6 percent state-owned, wants to implement changes in its labor structure to bring greater flexibility, as a large part of its staff currently enjoys semi-civil servant status, making it hard to cut jobs. The move is seen as crucial to the government’s plans to further privatize the company. «The problem is not just the further privatization of the company but the plan to hand over its financial management,» Vassilis Koufis, organizational secretary at trade union OME-OTE, told Reuters. Talks between the union and OTE’s management for the 2006 collective labor agreement have been rocky, with strikes called on and off earlier in the year. Koufis said OTE’s decision to give an interim 2.9 percent wage increase to employees in light of pending negotiations was «unprecedented.» «We want a satisfactory collective labor agreement to be signed,» he said. According to Koufis, about 80 percent of OTE’s roughly 12,000-strong work force participated in yesterday’s strike. (Reuters)