An amendment to the draft tax bill tabled in parliament on Friday clears the way for reducing the Greek government’s share in former monopoly operator Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) to less than 33% in the first half of 2007. The bill also changes the OTE personnel code, making it similar to that of mobile operator Cosmote. According to Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, OTE’s personnel regulations preserved ‘all the rigidity and inflexibility of the organisation’s mode of operation when it was a state monopoly, resulting in a very high operating cost, low productivity and shortcomings in the service to consumers’. Among its failings was the inability to hire staff to executive positions from the job market, a lack of flexibility in internal movement and a lack of performance incentives, he said. According to Alogoskoufis, the government was forced to proceed with passing the amendment after a stalemate in negotiations between OTE’s management and union representatives in talks lasting more than two years. The amendment was roundly criticised by the President of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Giannis Panagopoulos, who accused the government of ‘trampling over the results of collective agreements and collective bargaining’ by passing a law that essentially abolished collective agreements and divided the workforce, in order to create insecurity and sell off OTE to private interests.