NEWS

Power cuts to continue after day of disruption

Parts of Attica, Crete and Rhodes were among the areas affected by controlled power cuts by the Public Power Corporation (PPC) on Monday as its workers? union, GENOP, began rolling 48-hour strikes to protest government plans to privatize the company.

The strike by the unionists put nine power plants in various locations out of action, which prompted the national grid operator, DESMIE, to ask PPC to reduce output because there was a danger of the imbalances in demand causing a major blackout. PPC also had to make more use of its hydroelectric plants as unionists blocked the entrance to coal-fired units in Kozani, northern Greece.

The power to some islands and parts of Athens was cut between noon and 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Households can expect similar cuts today as there appeared to be no sign of GENOP letting up in its action after failed talks with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Environment Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou over the weekend.

PPC repeated its calls for consumers to limit their use of electricity as much as possible during those hours to ensure that there are as few outages as possible.

Unionists have called the action two weeks 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. GENOP claims that this will lead to consumers paying more for their electricity.

The sell-off provision is part of the government?s controversial midterm fiscal program, which also foresees new tax increases and spending cuts in the public sector.

Meanwhile, the public and private sector unions, ADEDY and GSEE, have called a 48-hour strike for next Monday and Tuesday, when Parliament is due to debate and vote on the midterm fiscal plan. GSEE has called for a protest in front of the European Commission offices in Athens for 10.30 a.m. this Tuesday. ADEDY has planned a rally in Syntagma Square, where the so-called ?Indignant? gathered for the 27th evening in a row yesterday, for 7.30 p.m. A group of 30 Indignant protesters began walking from Sparta to Athens, about 250 kilometers, on Sunday to join the protest on Tuesday.