IPTO staff fear salary drops if operator is transferred to state

Employee salaries at IPTO, the power grid operator, are likely to fall considerably if the company, a subsidiary of main power utility PPC, is eventually split from its parent company and transferred to the state in an effort to satisfy the demands of bailout lenders for the electricity market.

The country’s lenders want IPTO privatized but have also left open the option of not privatizing the operator as long as a convincing alternative plan promising real competition in the electricity market can be found and implemented. As part of their plan, Greek officials are believed to be considering transferring control of the operator to the state and introducing measures for greater competition.

The payroll at IPTO and PPC is already subject to wage ceilings, as is the case for all public utilities. But the salaries at these utilities are relatively higher than those offered to civil servants in recent years.

If IPTO is transferred to the state and no measures are taken to protect employee salaries from the shift then the drop in earnings will be substantial for a large number of staff members at the operator. According to energypress officials, monthly salaries will drop by as much as 800 euros to and 1,000 euros. The extent of the drop will depend on qualifications, positions held, and various other benefits.

Top officials at parent company PPC who share close links with the coalition’s main party, Syriza, have expressed strong opposition to the prospect of privatizing IPTO. This view increases the likelihood of IPTO ending up in state hands, which is a concern for staff members and their remuneration packages.

Over the past few days, the newly appointed Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis has been engaged in a series of talks with sector officials, placing PPC and IPTO at the top of his agenda as a result of the tight deadline imposed by lenders for settlement of the issue.

A finalized plan for IPTO is expected to be reached in the immediate future, once Greek officials have presented their proposal to the troika.