Striking Public Power Corporation (PPC) employees early Wednesday staged a symbolic takeover at the Infrastructures ministry in protest over state debts to the Athens-listed PPC, adding that the specific ministry was selected for the action because it was the electricity corporation's largest state debtor.
PPC employees' federation GENOP, which staged the takeover that ended at noon, said that at a time when electricity was being cut off from the poor, unemployed and pensioners (due to inability to pay the bill), the Greek state was the electricity company's worst payer, owing a total of more than 135 million euros.
GENOP posed the question of whether such debts would have accrued had the PPC been a private company.
The federation also charged as a "fraud" the PPC's "new capitalisation", calling it "an attempt to present the sale of a share package in the PPC as taking place for money collection reasons, when the 400 million euros that they (the state) will receive is only a drop in the ocean of the 50 billion euros (to be collected from the sale of state assets).
"The 'sellers' should be advised that they will first have to pay what they owe to the PPC," a GENOP announcement warned.
GENOP president Nikos Fotopoulos told ANA-MPA that the Infrastructures, Transport and Networks ministry alone owes the PPC 46 million euros, chiefly from electricity supply for the traffic lights, money that has been outstanding since 1998.
According to GENOP. according to February 2009 figures, the Defence ministry owes 9.4 million euros to the PPC, the Citizens' Protection ministry owes 7.1 million euros, the Interior ministry (Peripheries) owes 13.5 million euros, the Health ministry (hospitals) another 3,8 million euros, the Culture minister 2.3 million euros, and the Education ministry 2.2 million euros, while the municipal water and sewerage companies owe 20.8 million euros, the Attiko Metro (Athens Metro operator) company owes 6.7 million euros, and the list goes on.
PPC employees launched rolling 48-hour strikes as of midnight Sunday, demanding withdrawal of a provision in the government's Medium-Term fiscal program for further denationalisation of the PPC.
The rolling strikes have led to rotating electricity cuts in all parts of the country to ease the burden on the largely reduced number of power plants in operation so as to prevent power blackouts.