One of the strongest trump cards of the tripartite coalition to end the crisis today is the privatization programme. It includes the sales of some large public companies with key positions in the local market. One of the "golden geese" of the government of Antonis Samaras that can bring good revenue to the state treasury is the company Hellenic Post (ELTA). The state owns 90% of the company that holds the monopoly in the field of postal services. There are numerous smaller and larger companies offering courier services in Greece but Hellenic Post remains the biggest player in the market.
Postal employees firmly oppose the sale of even a small part of the company's shares but the strongest opponents of privatization remain the members of the trade union of the Greek Communist Party PAME. "We know that privatization is equivalent to layoffs, elimination of labour and social security rights. This will worsen the postal service. This will harm the most remote areas in which pensioners, owners of small and medium enterprises, but ordinary families too should have access to easy communication and postal services," Vassilis Vitos, the head of PAME at Hellenic Post told GRReporter. He explained that PAME would hold a series of meetings and discussions with the employees of the public postal service in various cities to inform them of their rights. They would also organize protest committees at the offices, which would go on strike at the right time to stop the privatization processes.
According to Vitos, the first meeting before the start of autumn in Athens has been successful and a significant number of people were attracted for the cause. "PAME is strongly opposed to any sale of state assets. We want the employees to defeat the attempted sale of the postal service," he insists and believes that the main trade union body in the sector – the Pan-Hellenic federation of trade unions of postal service employees operates in favour of the government and supports informally the liberalization of telecommunications. Members of PAME do not believe and refuse to accept that a privatization deal resulting in benefits for employees is possible. According to them, the postal service should retain its public nature, because it thus belongs to the people, not to an individual person or corporation, seeking profit and profitability.
Asked "Should we expect active strike actions in the Greek postal service this autumn?" Vassilis Vitos replied evasively. He said the governing body of the trade union has taken a formal decision to take active strike actions, but their date is not yet specified. The first of them is expected to take place on the eve of the Thessaloniki International Fair, which is held in early September. It is not yet known whether the Greek postal service will stop working in the same period in protest against the privatization.
The sale of state property is one of the safest ways for Greece to attract foreign investment in times of crisis. At the meeting with the head of the Eurogroup this week, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras reiterated the benefits of privatization. He defined it as a measure that would allow the country to make the first step to restore its economic growth. This means that the coalition government is unlikely to succumb to the pressure of some trade unions to change its strategy in this field. Vassilis Vitos did not agree with this view, "Privatization may be included in the master action plan of the government, but remember that the priorities of the government may change at any time. Privatization lists are constantly changing," he said. "We believe that employees have the power to stop the looting of state property. If they are organized and united, privatizations will not take place," the trade unionist concluded.