Banks and employees reach two-year labor deal After a protracted standoff, banks and employees late on Wednesday night reached a two-year labor agreement over pay and work hours. The deal provides for raises of 4.2 percent for this year and 3.8 percent for 2003, and a reduction in work hours from 38.20 to 37 weekly, with a parallel extension of daily business hours by 30 minutes to 2.30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and to 2.00 p.m. on Friday. Bank workers are also to obtain mortgage loans on better terms. The deal was endorsed by public sector bank workers, with those in private banks abstaining. Supporters of the agreement said it had salvaged the institution of sectoral labor agreements at a time when private banks vie for their abolition and achieved an «historic» reduction in work hours. Petzetakis reports more profits in the pipeline Plastic pipes maker Petzetakis yesterday reported a 39.5-percent jump in operating profits (adjusted EBITDA) to 4.1 million euros in the first quarter of 2002, compared to the same period of 2001. Sales rose 33.7 percent to 44.4 million euros, «due to the contribution of the acquisitions completed in 2001 and resulting in the strengthening of the international position of the group in Europe and South Africa,» the company said in a press release. Fixed operating costs fell 7.6 percent to 6.44 million euros and gross profit margin rose 58.3 percent. Petzetakis anticipates further improvement this year after rising sales abroad in March and April and due to a speeding up of Olympic projects at home. Capital fines and approvals The Capital Market Commission yesterday imposed fines of 9,000 and 18,000 euros respectively on stockbrokerages Solidus and Zeus for not reporting large outstanding debts by clients, and a total of 57,600 euros on the companies Klonatex, Violan and Sarros and on Giorgos Gerardos, managing director of Plaisio Computers, for failing to give advance notice of large transactions by basic shareholders. It also approved an operating license for Alpha Real Estate Investment Company, the first of its kind to be set up according to a 1999 law, and the use of financial derivatives and warrants by mutual fund companies and closed-end investment funds. Car sales Sales of private cars showed a 16.6-percent recovery in April compared to a year earlier, reversing the trend of the previous three months, the National Statistics Service (NSS) announced yesterday. The development brought the total fall in the four months to 3.6 percent. Hyundai stayed atop the market in April with a 9.94-percent share, followed by Peugeot with 8.87 percent, Toyota with 8.70 percent, Opel with 8.03 percent, and Fiat with 7.60 percent. Tax safari Tax officials recorded a fourfold increase in inspections in the first four months of the year compared to the same period of 2001, more than doubling the amounts of tax netted: In a total of 5,901 inspections they garnered tax dues of 486 million euros. The bank management appears to realize that a broader focus is needed. Last month it announced plans to strengthen its presence in retail banking, private banking and equity market operations.