Greek telecoms giant OTE to slash wages

23rd September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Greece's main telecommunications operator OTE, majority owned by Germany's Deutsche Telekom, said Friday it had agreed with unions on cutting wages by 11 percent to save 160 million euros ($216 million).

"Following lengthy negotiations of several months, (OTE) reached an agreement with the unions on the framework of a three-year collective labour agreement to be signed after approval by the competent bodies of the parties involved," the company said.

The group, the largest in the Balkans, pledged not to make any dismissals "on financial or operational grounds" for the duration of the agreement.

In turn, salary grades will be reduced by around 11 percent for three years and revert to current levels in 2015.

Working time is set at 35 hours per week for the same period and will then increase to 40.

The deal applies to the group's fixed telephony operations in Greece, excluding mobile telephony departments in Greece and the Balkans.

"We have reached common ground with the union representatives to reduce payroll costs without resorting to dismissals," company chairman and CEO Michael Tsamaz said.

Collective agreements were introduced in Greece last year to lower labour costs and improve competitiveness as the country sludges through its worst debt crisis since the postwar period.

OTE is the largest telecom operator in the Balkans and employs some 29,000 people in Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.

It posted a 62.2-million-euro net profit in the second quarter of 2011 after losses of 60.8 million euros in the equivalent period last year.

"At least we managed to guarantee 12,000 posts (in Greece)," said Antonis Birbilis, secretary of the OME-OTE union.

He noted that salaries will be cut by 12 percent next year, 11 percent in 2013 and 10 percent in 2014.

The government in June sold a 10-percent stake in the company to Deutsche Telekom which currently controls 40 percent of OTE.

Until now, the sale is the sole tangible example of a long-delayed privatisation drive that aims to raise 50 billion euros to reduce the country's mountain of debt.

© 2011 AFP

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