Layoffs noted in majority of local blue chip firms

Twelve out of the 20 companies comprising the Athens Exchange’s blue chip FTSE/ATHEX 20 index showed a decline in the number of employees in the year’s first quarter compared with the same period in 2009, according to official figures. The crisis appears to have forced a number of firms, including profit-making businesses, to cut down on staff, as efforts to contain operation costs and reduce investments were mostly completed last year. Therefore some listed companies are making more drastic moves that go as far as laying off employees, and even those with an increase in net earnings, such as Titan Cement, are contemplating the prospect of reducing worker numbers. Staff cuts were also observed in 19 mid-cap and 51 small-cap firms in the January-March period this year.