NEWS

Port payoff scheme prompts ire

Senior ministers yesterday expressed frustration at the government’s approval of a scheme by the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) to offer redundancy payoffs to dozens of stevedores that are expected to cost the state more than 80 million euros. The decision by Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos to approve the plans of OLP Chairman Giorgos Anomeritis to pay off departing workers came six weeks after OLP’s deal with Chinese port operating company Cosco – regarding the operation of container terminals at Piraeus – came into effect. Reacting to the development, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou said it was «outrageous» for the state to be burdened by such a huge payout at such a critical time for the economy. Labor and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos was also caustic, noting that «there is no cash in the registers,» and suggested that OLP’s Chinese business partners pay the difference. Loverdos’s deputy, Giorgos Koutroumanis, remarked, «It is inconceivable that someone without legs cannot get their pension while others manage to retire at 50,» a clear reference to the stevedores, some of whom earn more than 150,000 euros per year. Anomeritis yesterday announced that he had Pangalos’s backing for the project, which essentially invokes legislation passed by the former conservative government. He insisted that the compensation for 309 workers would burden state-backed OLP, not the state itself. The law invoked by Anomeritis to approve the layoffs was based on a study compiled in 2008, under the New Democracy government of the time, which indicated that the payoffs involved in a voluntary redundancy scheme would cost some 56 million euros, 11 million euros less than keeping the OLP workers employed indefinitely.