ELPE union mobilizes to block Vitol inspection of refineries

The ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) union and its members have planned action for today and tomorrow with the aim of preventing representatives of Dutch enterprise Vitol, one of two prospective buyers through to the second round of an international tender offering a 50.1 percent stake of ELPE, from making on-site inspections of the Greek petroleum group’s facilities.

Vitol representatives are scheduled to visit ELPE’s refineries in Elefsina and Aspropyrgos, both west of Athens, today and tomorrow. However, this plan could be revised to avoid further delays to the sale procedure.

Visiting Vitol officials could be updated on the ELPE facilities at an alternative location, as was also the case a few weeks ago with representatives of Switzerland’s Glencore, the sale’s other candidate, who were barred entry into ELPE’s refineries by union members.

ELPE chairman Stathis Tsotsoros has described the union’s mobilization as an extremely serious matter. The government intends to take initiatives to ensure the completion of the site inspection stage of the sale process, he has noted.

Besides its blockades, the ELPE union has also taken action at a local and EU level claiming the sale breaches Greek and EU laws concerning acquisitions through public offers.

In an appeal forwarded to Greece’s Capital Market Commission, the ELPE union contends that the sale procedure launched by TAIPED, the state privatization fund, threatens to undermine the interests of the public sector, ELPE, the company’s shareholders, as well as ELPE workers.

Similar concerns, at an EU level, were expressed in the ELPE union’s appeal to European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions (PETI), responsible for the maintenance of EU law.