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Large firms in Greece resort to massive cuts

21 November 2012 / 14:11:45  GRReporter
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IKEA, Citibank-Greece, Forthnet and Costa Coffee are just some of the companies that are starting to make significant cuts or preparing to leave the country due to the deteriorating financial conditions of the local market.

Furniture giant IKEA has announced that it will cut salaries by an average of 8.5% following the deterioration of the economic situation of the company and the decline in revenues last year. The reaction of trade unions was not late in coming and representatives of PAME along with employees of the Athens shop on Kifissou Avenue gathered on Tuesday night to protest against the cuts. They refuse to accept the cuts in wages and have announced that they will take active strike actions.

The Fourlis corporate group underlines that the employees of IKEA-Greece are among the few who still benefit from the collective labour agreement, despite its repeal by the central government. HOUSEMARKET SA, which is part of the holding company and manages the furniture shops, emphasizes that the company's employees still receive a full 13th salary during the Christmas holidays. The wages of young people under 25 will not be reduced, as permitted by law. The company pays newly appointed employees 30% more than the minimum wage and ensures that the cuts will not affect employees who suffered pay cuts in February 2012.

The Fourlis family was ranked fifteenth in the 2009 list of the richest Greeks with 167 million euro. The family business began to grow in post-war Greece, where Anastasios Fourlis began importing and selling German branded appliances. His three brothers were involved a little later. Today, the family is the official representative for the Swedish furniture company IKEA with offices in Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria. Fourlis also represents a number of leading brand appliances in Greece and Romania. The Fourlis family participates in the Intersport franchise chain with sales offices in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus.

The cuts in wages incited not only the employees in IKEA furniture shops, but also the people employed in the Forthnet telephone company. The trade union of employees in telecommunications in the region of Attica insists that Forthnet wants to cut unreasonably the salaries of the staff by up to 35%. "There have been layoffs of workers in the past and now, they are equalizing the salaries by reducing them in accordance with the new rules on the amount of wages," trade unionists are indignant.

Citibank-Greece has also resorted to spending cuts. The bank closed 16 offices in the country, mainly in the countryside and it now remains only with branches in Athens and Thessaloniki. "Taking into account the economic and business environment that requires adaptability, flexibility and determination, Citi Greece is undertaking a rationalization of its commercial network," the message of the commercial bank reads. It remains with 21 branches in the two largest cities of the country. As part of its social policy to dismissed employees, Citibank has announced that it will extend their health insurance.

The drastic decline in the turnover of the British Costa Coffee chain has made the corporation withdraw from Greece. Greek Coffee Company SA, which began operating in Greece in 2007 and subsequently opened 10 shops under the brand Costa Coffee, is on the verge of closure. It has 90 employees, who had to be released after the 40% drop in the company's turnover.

Tags: EconomyCompaniesIKEAStrikesCutsGreeceCrisis
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