The first hot August week in Athens began intensively. On the first workday, the majority of Post Bank’s employees left their desks between 12 noon and 3 pm in protest against its future privatisation.
The heat spoiled the plans for a protest march to the Ministry of Finance, but trade union leaders of the employees said, "During the strike on Wednesday there should be many of us in order to show that we are united."
President of the employees’ union to the bank George Sideris told GRReporter that their main demand was to avoid the privatisation and for the financial stability fund to recapitalise the bank.
"We want the government to declare its intentions regarding the Post Bank. It is the only bank in Greece for citizens' savings and it plays an important social role. Its aim is to focus on people's savings and to finance large public projects. During the 110 years since its establishment, our bank has funded successful projects such as the dam in Marathonas as well as the entire road network. Even the first aeroplanes during the war in 1940 had an inscription with the name of the Post Bank."
According to the head of the employees’ union, the only problem with the functions of the bank is associated with the Greek debt haircut. "The damage amounted to around 2.8 billion euro. However, we are not among the four banks to be recapitalised."
In support of his arguments, George Sideris said, "Post Bank has the lowest percentage of risky loans among all Greek banks. It is about 3.5 per cent whereas it is between 25-30 per cent for the other banks."
The employees strongly oppose the privatisation of the bank. "We think that it should never be given as a gift to one of the bankers. As shown by experience, they failed to manage their banks as successfully as ours. As an example, I would like to point out that our loans are 27 per cent. In other banks, whose names I do not need to mention, the loans are 140 per cent."
Trade unionists urged their colleagues to massively participate in the strike on 8 August, when there will be a procession to the Bank of Greece, the Ministry of Finance and Parliament "because the experience of last Friday shows that the protest actions are paying off." They said that they were preparing television and radio clips in order to inform the public.
Asked by one of his colleagues whether Post Bank would follow the path of the Agricultural Bank ATE, they replied that probably they would not repeat this pattern. "The state revoked the license of the Agricultural Bank before the sale. It seems that things will not turn out that way in the case of Post Bank."
Trade unionists said they would try to meet with the Minister or other representative of the Ministry of Finance and to visit the Privatisation Agency to try to find out the plan for the privatisation of the bank.
Post Bank has the largest network of branches. The bank owns 220 branches and another 1,000 are affiliated with the Greek Post and cooperate with it throughout the country.
Meanwhile, today's meeting of the leaders of the ruling tripartite coalition is expected to cancel the requirement that the states should hold the majority stake (51 per cent) in companies of strategic importance. It is also expected to eliminate the restriction of 21 per cent of the shares of strategic investors without the explicit approval of the for privatisation commission at ministerial level.