Labor, community improvements offered to ease lignite sale defiance

Energy minister Giorgos Stathakis has made three revisions to a draft bill concerning the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required disinvestment of lignite units, expected to be ratified in parliament today, his intention being to offer improved conditions to workers and local communities impacted by the sales as a means of getting the bill through the house.

The first revision will commit the prospective new owners of PPC’s lignite units to provide district heating (telethermal) to the Macedonia region in Greece’s north.

The minister’s second revision aims to safeguard worker rights by ensuring that a collective workers agreement at PPC remains valid for workers at the units placed for sale.

The third revision intends to increase a lignite surcharge – imposed to compensate communities where lignite-fired stations operate – from 1.2 euros to 1.4 euros per MWh of electricity generated.

As a result, certain coalition MPs who, until recently, opposed the draft bill are now expected to vote in favor.

In comments offered yesterday, Giorgos Dzimanis, a Syriza party MP in the Kozani constituency, said he would back the draft bill in parliament if labor issues are improved. Dzimanis is one of five coalition MPs who have warned they would reject any draft bill concerning the sale of PPC lignite units.

The sale package represents 40 percent of PPC’s lignite capacity.

Until last November, Giorgos Papailiou, another Syriza party MP, representing the Arkadia constituency in the Peloponnese, categorically opposed the inclusion of any Megalopoli units in the sale but ended up softening his stance several weeks ago by declaring that, fortunately, the government has managed to keep hydropower facilties out of the bailout required sale.