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Workers at Greece's PPC go to European court over stake claim
April 3, 2017 / 1:16 PM / 7 months ago

Workers at Greece's PPC go to European court over stake claim

ATHENS (Reuters) - Workers at Greece’s main power utility, Public Power Corp (PPC) (DEHr.AT), will file an appeal to Europe’s top human rights court on Tuesday, aiming to block the sale of some company assets and seeking recognition they own a stake in the business.

A view of the coal-fired power station of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) near the northern town of Ptolemaida, Greece, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

Part of the state-controlled PPC is due to be sold under Greece’s multi-billion euro bailout. But the GENOP-DEH union is opposed to the plan and said on Monday staff should have a greater say, claiming they have a stake in the company from social security contributions accumulated from 1966 to 1999.

“We will file an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday, seeking that our holdings in the company are recognised,” said George Adamidis, head of the union representing 18,000 PPC workers.

An earlier attempt to have their claim recognised was rejected by Greece’s Council of State, the country’s top administrative court.

The state controls 51 percent of PPC, which commands about 90 percent of Greece’s retail power market and 60 percent of its wholesale market.

Under an international bailout signed in 2015, Athens agreed to cut both shares to below 50 percent by 2020, mainly via power sales to alternative producers.

But its lenders from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund say that plan has not been effective and they now want the country to also sell up to 40 percent of its coal-fired units.

The issue has been an obstacle in talks to unlock new loans for the cash-strapped country.

GENOP-DEH has accused the government of trying to hold a fire-sale of parts of PPC and has warned of labour action if Athens moves ahead with the plan.

PPC operates 14 coal-fired units in Greece, accounting for about half of the company’s total production.

Energy Minister George Stathakis told Athens News Agency on Sunday the government would safeguard jobs at PPC and support every effort to keep its assets under state control.

Stathakis said lenders were pushing Greece to sell PPC assets after a European court ruled last year that PPC had abused its dominant position in the country’s coal market.

Greece, PPC and its lenders will hold talks until autumn to specify which coal-fired units will be sold, he added.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Potter

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