Court of Audit to probe parliamentary staff

The Court of Audit is to investigate the decision to exclude parliamentary staff from wage and pension cuts that were approved by MPs on Wednesday.

The move comes as the House employees hit back at claims that they earn excessive salaries and benefit from privileges not available to other civil servants.

A decision to launch the probe was taken after the government hastily removed a last-minute amendment that would have brought parliamentary staff?s pay in line with the rest of the civil service. The legislation was removed after House employees threatened to strike and possibly derail the vote on the latest austerity package. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras vowed to resubmit the amendment.

The Court of Audit argues that there are no grounds for parliamentary staff to be exempt from changes in the rest of the public sector. It has suggested that Article 65 of the Constitution grants Parliament independence with regard to the way it exercises its role as a democratic institution but that this exclusivity does not extend to the wages and benefits of its staff.

Parliamentary workers, meanwhile, issued a statement on Saturday arguing that they were being victimized. They said that reports about them receiving 16 monthly salaries were incorrect as the extra wages they were once paid have been cut. The employees also pointed out that they work different hours to the rest of the civil service as parliamentary sessions sometimes take place in the evening or on weekends.

?We are not asking for pity... but this is a long way from us accepting being made the scapegoats for a situation we did not create,? the staff said in their statement.