PPC voluntary retirement plan to face numerous obstacles

Main power utility PPC’s voluntary retirement plan for approximately 200 pension-aged staff members from various departments, offering total severance pay of 3 million euros for the reduction of employees worth 10 million euros on the payroll each year, boils down to being a cost-cutting measure that is bound to run into legal issues.

Long-serving PPC employees who have qualified for pensions but instead chosen to carry on working amid the prolonged recession will be offered 15,000-euro bonus packages for voluntary retirement, PPC recently announced.

According to well-informed energypress sources, many prospective retirees have objections. Employees who have served at PPC for forty years, for example, and have built sound remuneration packages over the years, are better off staying at the utility as their pensions would not exceed 1,000 euros per month.

Genop, PPC’s main union group, is seeking to boost the severance pay amount. The utility has deferred any action until its upcoming board meeting, scheduled for January 17.

A lump sum payment offered to retirees, funded by employee not employer contributions, has been severely cut, while, furthermore, its payment would be delayed, unionists argue.

Genop is seeking to keep apart the bonus severance pay and lump sums offered for retirement. It does not want these two retirement payments to be offset in any way.

In comments to energypress, PPC board members admitted that the utility’s voluntary retirement plan has some way to go before being implemented. A labor law amendment concerning state utilities, ratified in 2012, does not permit PPC to force staff members into age-based retirement.

As part of the second bailout in 2012, existing state utility work contracts, which essentially offered lifetime employment, including for PPC staff, were transformed and made indefinite, the intention being to enable job cuts. This revision lifted age limits. However, no government has possessed the political courage to implement the plan and cut jobs at utility.