NEWS

PPC union heralds rolling strikes

The president of one of Greece?s most powerful labor unions, GENOP, which represents Public Power Corporation workers, yesterday heralded rolling 48-hour strikes in protest at the government?s insistence on pushing ahead with the privatization of PPC.

It is expected that the strikes, which could lead to widespread blackouts, will begin on May 5, a week before the government is to submit legislation in Parliament paving the way for the state to reduce its holdings in PPC from 51 percent to 34 percent.

Nikos Fotopoulos, the union?s leader, said GENOP would sue PPC for the return of 12 billion euros in workers? pension fund money. According to an agreement between PPC and GENOP, the power company can present the pension fund as part of its assets and use the fund money for investment. ?Everyone knows where all the money went, and the PPC presidents know best of all,? Fotopoulos remarked.

During the three-hour press conference, Fotopoulos insisted that his union would continue to fight the government?s privatization plans and lashed out at Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou for changing his stance on GENOP. Fotopoulos also directed sharp criticism at public administration inspector Leandros Rakintzis, who released a report claiming that GENOP had received milions of euros in illegal funding from PPC since 1999 and had spent much of this on trips abroad and gifts.

?Rakintzis has been public administration inspector for seven years and didn?t see or hear anything illegal but now has suddenly woken up?? Fotopoulos said. As for the finance minister, the unionist accused him of abandoning GENOP, producing a photograph that apparently shows Papaconstantinou when he was an opposition MP in a crowd of unionists storming a meeting of PPC officials.