The partial sale of phone company OTE was just one of the privatisations that thousands of Greek workers protested against when they went on strike and took to the streets.
The civil service unions believe the sell-offs will lead to job losses and increased prices and they’re opposed to state firms coming under foreign control. The head of the phone company union Panayiotis Kourtis said: “It’s treachery, this deal, they’re handing over public property. We’ve repeatedly protested. But unfortunately the government prefers to pander to foreign company bosses. OTE’s being given away to Deutsche Telekom, without the Greek people getting any of the money.”
The government wants to sell off stakes in several state-run companies, including the main commercial ports and banks to reduce public debt.
One protestor said: “We want all privatisations to stop, collective bargaining agreements should be based on the needs of the workers and not the crumbs that the employers and the government want to give us.”
Greece has been hit by a series of strikes in recent months as the government pushes through difficult reforms, including an overhaul of the ailing pension system. The unions are opposed because the retirement age would rise and benefits would be reduced.