ATHENS – The closing of 41 Hellenic Post ELTA offices in Greece and plans to shut down another 54 by the end of 2023 to save money has drawn criticism from political rivals of the ruling New Democracy.
Sokratis Famellos, leader of the major opposition SYRIZA’s parliamentary group said in a statement the sudden closings deprived people of access to essential services in spots around the country, said Balkan Insight.
“Until today, these branches served the needs of communication, financial transactions (payment of pensions, bills, taxes, etc.) – which covered the closing of bank branches – and even pharmaceutical care; services which, especially in certain regions and for certain groups of citizens, there is no alternative plan to provide,” Famellos said.
ELTA announced its new business plan in July to reorganize services, facing competition from domestic and international delivery services that came after some branches even in heavily populated areas were shut.
ELTA Manaing Director Grigoris Skilikas defended the move and said that, “This is a plan that was designed in detail by ELTA people, in collaboration with an external consultant, taking into account the dynamics of the company and the needs of the market, with the aim, in an 18-month outlook, to be everywhere, but to be better, for our company, our people and customers.”
He didn’t say how closing branches would benefit people who wouldn’t have access to postal services or what the alternatives would be and there have been protests already, especially on Chios and Evia and the largest island, Crete,
On Evia – Greece’s second-largest island, just 36 miles northeast of Athens – Laiki Syspeirosi, a local organisation supported by the Greek Communist Party, civic associations and unions blasted the decision to close an office at Avlonari.
“The closure of the has the effect of denying pensioners, the disabled, workers, professionals and the lower classes access to the postal services they need,” Laiki Syspeirosi said in a statement, claiming it’s linked to privatization plans.
Earlier media reports said that ELTA, founded in 1828 as a state agency, has since the beginning of 2020 – when the COVID-19 pandemic stuck – been losing 7 million euros ($7.4 million) monthly, its first deficits ever.
The service is said being hurt by low prices for services offered, high salaries and a lack of technology to compete with other private companies and in April this year SYRIZA lawmakers said there were complaints about alleged mismanagement, embezzlement, incompetence and criminal activity, the news site said.