Employees at OTE telecoms have blocked Kifissias Avenue, one of Athens’s busiest roads, and are picketing in front of the companies headquarters in Maroussi to protest the government’s move to reduce its stake in the firm.
Protestors closed the road from 9 a.m. this morning, causing major disruption to traffic, and prevented employees from entering the building in northern Athens.
They are demanding that the government cancels its decision to sell a 10-percent stake in the telecommunications firm. The protest was prompted by news on Thursday that the Greek government had contacted Deutsche Telekom, which owns 30 percent of OTE, to arrange the sale.
The Greek government, which owns 20 percent of OTE, said it would activate a «put option» – a contract to sell an asset by a specific date – on a 10-percent stake in OTE and would also consider selling the remaining six percent at an unspecified date as part of a wider privatization scheme aimed at reducing its debt.
Bloomberg reported that Deutsche Telekom spokeswoman Anna Bischof said in an emailed statement that the German company had received the letter in which the government said it wanted to discuss the sale process for OTE, the largest telecom operator in the Balkans that employs some 30,000 people in Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.
A Telekom spokeswoman priced the purchase of the 10-percent stake at nearly 400 million euros and said the company had an option to buy the rest of the state’s holding.
In February, OTE announced cost cuts worth some 32 million euros but managed to raise 500 million euros in a three-year bond sale two months later.
OME-OTE, the company’s union has scheduled a three-hour walkout for June 2, with a 24-hour strike called for June 9 and again on June 15.