The year kicked off less than sweetly than one might have hoped for 220 workers of the Hellenic Sugar Industry S.A., as the company’s management called in workers today to discuss ways to cut labour costs.
The meeting was billed as an effort to reach a compromise arrangement, without management unilaterally proceeding with wage cuts.
Management was reportedly poised to propose fresh, major salary cuts for workers, whose wages have already been slashed by 20 percent.
“The company’s main focus is in on the production and trade of white crystal sugar and its by-products. It is the sole sugar producer in Greece and is functioning in the framework of the common agricultural policy of the European Union,” according to the company’s website.
A letter to the workers’ trade union – signed by company president Panagiotis Alexakis, a former president of the Athens Stock Exchange, and by managing director Panagiotis Karahalios – states that, “The company is seeking solutions for lowering labour costs and averting layoffs, and is willing to approve solutions that result from a consensus with its employees. Otherwise, it is planning to introduce a system of rotating employment instead of layoffs.”
The letter from management paints a bleak fiscal picture, with 58 million euros in losses for 2015, 40.3 million euros in 2016, and 23 million euros in losses for 2017.
The last months of 2017 showed an alarming, 50 percent drop in turnover, which is attributed to reduced production and an entry of many competitors into the market, after it was freed up.
Secondly, the price of sugar dropped by 30 percent.