Minister targets wages at listed firms

Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou has written to publicly listed companies in which the state has a major share to ask that they also reduce the wages of employees, roughly in line with legislation passed last week that imposes a 10 percent salary cut for workers at public enterprises.

Sources said that Papaconstantinou is not expecting the firms, which include OTE telecom, Public Power Corporation, the Athens Water and Sewage Company (EYDAP) and gaming firm OPAP to adopt a cut as high as 10 percent or to limit the wages of employees to a maximum of 4,000 euros gross per month, as the recently passed legislation decrees for public enterprises (known as DEKOs).

However, the finance minister does expect the management of these publicly listed firms to ensure that some of the disparity in wages between their employees and other public sector workers is evened out. Sources said that some of the executives see Papaconstantinou’s request as an opportunity to trim benefits that some of their employees have accrued over a long number of years but which seem out of place now.

For instance, at OPAP, employees are paid 18.5 monthly salaries each year. This is a benefit that stretches back to the 1990s when the government agreed to increase the number of their monthly wages to combat the loss of their earnings to inflation. These extra wages were then linked to a productivity scale that had to do with the number of jackpots there were on the national lottery each year. Experts say that the lottery is so popular now that this number of jackpots is usually attained in a month, thereby guaranteeing that the employees still receive 18.5 wages, which means that their average annual salary is 150,000 euros.

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