PPC union to take legal action against looming unit sales

The power utility PPC’s main union group Genop, reacting to prospective bailout-required utility production unit sales and a split-and sale plan for the subsidiary power grid operator IPTO, now in progress, intends to start off its European Court action next week by filing a case to the Strasbourg court as a challenge against the IPTO sale.

The union group also plans to eventually take legal action against a bailout plan entailing the sale of PPC production units, details of which are still in the process of being formulated.

However, it is presumed that Genop will first wait for the results of a market test to be staged in September as a means of measuring investor interest in the PPC units. The test’s results will help determine which PPC units will be placed for sale. Subdued buyer interest in PPC’s lignite-fired stations will lead to the addition of hydropower stations to the package.

When the overall picture is clearer, Genop will initiate its challenge of the PPC unit sales at the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, and, if needed, then take its case to the European Court.

The Council of State has already rejected – with a 10-7 vote – a Genop challenge of the IPTO sale, which is why the union group is expected to take this case to the European Court next Tuesday.

The union group’s leadership will meet today with energy minister Giorgos Stathakis in provincial city Kozani, northern Greece.

The minister, who only recently accepted lender demands for the sale of PPC production units, is visiting the country’s north as the prospective sale of utility units is a sensitive issue in the wider region. The bulk of PPC’s lignite-fired power stations operate in northern Greece.

Returning to Genop’s decision to take legal action, the union, knowing that European Court verdicts take a considerable time to be delivered, hopes this anticipated delay will make prospective investors thing twice before proceeding with any PPC unit acquisitions.

In its legal action, the union is expected to claim that PPC workers possess ownership rights to PPC assets as a result of social security fund contributions made over the years, from the time of the corporation’s establishment in 1960 until 2001, when the utility was listed on the bourse.

In the meantime, as a first step, the union is expected to orchestrate protests, strikes and occupations of utility units. The legal action will come as the union’s second stage of action.

Though not publically discussed, a third step, if Genop fails to block the PPC unit sales, will entail talks with the new power production unit owners as an effort to protect jobs.