PPC set to shed initial 200 jobs, mostly pension-aged personnel

The main power utility PPC board is preparing to approve a personnel division proposal that will cut an initial lot of 200 jobs maintained by long-serving employees who have reached retirement age but chosen to carry on working.

Approval of the proposal, setting mandatory retirement ages, is expected to lead to further job cuts. Reported figures that have occasionally surfaced vary from 400 or 600.

The utility’s board originally planned to discuss the job-cutting measure last month but intervention from Genop, PPC’s main union group, led to its delay.

The matter is now expected to be discussed by the PPC board either on January 9, when it is scheduled to convene, or during one of a series of upcoming meetings this month and in February.

According to sources, the personnel division’s job-cutting proposal imposes age limits of 60 for all PPC employees working at power stations and mines, 62 for administrative and technical staff, and 65 for managerial-level personnel.

The majority of the 200 PPC employees expected to lose their jobs are over 60 years of age and have been employed at the utility for over 40 years. Despite having qualified for pensions, they have opted to keep working.

These prolonged stays were unintentionally caused by terms included in Greece’s second bailout package, agreed to in 2012. Terms implemented transformed state utility job contracts into agreements covering indefinite time periods rather than specific time periods, once designed to guarantee long-term employment security. However, instead of leading to job cuts, as had been intended, this measure essentially vanished the retirement age, prompting PPC workers to stay on. The number of employees aged over 60 at the company has increased considerably over the past few years.

A total of 2,500 PPC employees who were qualified for age pensions retired in 2010. This figure slowed to 1,500 in 2011 and fell to levels of between 600 and 700 in more recent years. Last year’s retirement tally at the utility plummeted to just 150 persons. PPC’s percentage of retiring employees has fallen from rougly 4 percent of its total workforce to 1.5 percent.

Though the figures are unclear at other state utilities, similar trends are believed to be prevailing.

The strain of worsening financial conditions such as lower pensions and increased taxpayer obligations has spurred ageing employees at PPC and other utilities to carry on working despite the fulfillment of age pension criteria.