OTE telecom offers early retirement to 200 employees

OTE, the biggest Greek phone company, said it will offer incentives of as much as -40,000 to 200 employees to leave this year. The voluntary exit plan applies to employees who have one to five remaining years of service until retirement, who may get exit bonuses of -5,000 to -40,000, OTE said in a Regulatory News Service statement. OTE has reduced its workforce to shore up earnings at the Greek fixed-line phone unit as sales declined. The company spent more than -1 billion in 2005 to pay pensions and benefits to about 5,500 workers to retire early, overcoming union opposition. The reductions allowed Chief Executive Officer Panagis Vourloumis to hire younger workers, who cost the company less and can be fired, unlike older workers, who can’t be sacked because of laws dating from when OTE was the country’s monopoly. The plan announced yesterday is supported by the company’s OME-OTE union, according to the statement. Employees have until March 21 to apply and departures will begin from April. All employees applying will leave by the end of the year. OTE ‘s Greek phone unit had a workforce of 11,560 at the end of September.