PPC units sale draft bill to provide job protection for 1,300 workers

A draft bill concerning the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale of lignite units, expected to soon be submitted to Greek Parliament by the energy ministry, will include provisions enabling prospective unit buyers to take on no less than the majority of roughly 1,300 workers currently employed at three power plants included in the sale package.

The government and country’s lenders appear to have reached an agreement on this labor protection issue, energypress sources informed. However, its duration remains unsettled.

The government is seeking to ensure job security and remuneration protection over a five-year period for employees of the state-conrolled power utility’s lignite units being sold.

The PPC employees protection plan, tabled by energy minister Giorgos Stathakis at the bailout’s fourth review negotiations, now underway, had also been incorporated into an older and now defunct law concerning a previous plan to sell part of PPC, locally dubbed “Little PPC”.

Assuming investors are interested and the PPC lignite units are sold and transferred to new owners – a process not expected any sooner than the end of this year – the implementation of a five-year protection plan would offer employees protection right up until 2023, about a year before lignite deposits are expected to be depleted at the Megalopoli mine, feeding two lignite-fire facilities, Megalopoli III and IV, included in the sale package.

The bailout-required sale’s employment concerns run highest for these two Megalopoli units, which employ 1,100 of 1,300 employees working at three power plants up for sale.

The draft bill for PPC’s lignite disinvestment, described as a highly complex task by the energy minister, is still at a preliminary stage. The bill is expected to be submitted to parliament around mid-March, the minister has informed. It is comprised of three sections – labor issues; the split process, from PPC, of units to be sold; and the sale procedure’s details.

In comments offered yesterday, Stathakis said PPC’s disinvestment of lignite units is inevitable following a European Court ruling that condemned the power utility’s dominant access to the country’s lignite mines.