Gas firm unions start strikes fearing privatization effects

Workers at the country’s state-run gas companies, especially gas utility DEPA, are gearing up for widespread strike action as union representatives remain unconvinced various labor right demands will be settled following meetings with energy minister Giorgos Stathakis.

Union members want worker right assurances ahead of DEPA’s approaching privatization plan. These include a call for official hirings, on DEPA and gas grid operator DESFA company payrolls, of numerous staff members currently either maintaining sub-contracting associations with these gas companies or paid as freelancers through invoice booklets.

The unions also want authorities to drop a plan to offer investors a majority stake of DEPA’s commercial interests as part of the privatization.

According to the DEPA sale plan, the gas utility will be split into two companies, DEPA Trade and DEPA Infrastructure. Prospective buyers will be offered a majority stake in DEPA Trade, while, at a latter stage of the sale procedure, investors will be offered a minority stake of DEPA Infrastructure.

Panhellenic Energy Organization (POE) has called a 24-hour strike for today over the futures of DEPA’s external associates, numbering 150, whom they want added to company payrolls.

Union leaders also want salary protection measures for EPA and EDA supply and distribution subsidiary employees. Their remuneration arrangements are currently based on private-sector labor market rules. DEPA has agreed to acquire a 49 percent share of its EPA Attiki supply venture shared with Shell. According to sources, the rights of these employees will be protected for a period of at least one or two years following the company’s restructuring.