ATHENS – The new coalition government led by New Democracy Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has forced the manager of the state nickel producer LARCO to resign after he refused an order to reduce workers’ pay as part of efforts to cut costs as demanded by international lenders.
The Finance Ministry said in a statement that the President and CEO of LARCO, Anastasios Barakos, was asked to resign for flouting the law. “He did not apply legislation requiring a reduction of salaries across the wider public sector,” the ministry said. Barakos was not immediately available for comment. LARCO is one of the world’s top producers of nickel.
Ministry officials said all state corporations were told in 2011 to reduce pay by 35 per cent over two years, with 25 per cent in the first year, in line with reductions in the core civil service. They said Barakos had written back that his company and its workers should be exempted and that he would refuse to obey the order.
State companies generally pay far higher wages than those given to civil servants, whose much lower pay was cut 30 percent and more under austerity measures insisted upon by the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) in return for $325 billion in two bailouts to prop the country’s essentially dead economy. Samaras’ shaky coalition said it would also move to shut down or merge many state entities and privatize others to save money.
Some 40,000 public workers also now face being put into so-called labor reserve pools at 60 percent of their already reduced pay and are likely to be fired next year. That means workers who two years ago were earning a gross salary of 1,200 euros, or $1,427, and who have seen that cut on average to about 840 euros, or $1,031, would get about 336 euros, or $412 a month for a year and then let go. The Troika wants the hugely bloated public workforce cut by 150,000 workers over the next two years.
(Sources: Athens News, Reuters)