NEWS

Amid arguments, Greek Parliament passes multi-bill needed for further bailout loans

Greek Parliament passed on Sunday night a multi-bill, which includes plans for 15,000 civil servants to be dismissed by the end of 2014.

The legislation included other reforms, such as the number of instalments debtors to the state will have to pay the tax and social security contributions they owed.

Of 292 MPs that took part in the vote, 168 deputies voted in favor of the omnibus bill, 123 against and one voted “present”. It was Parliament’s last sitting before Orthodox Easter on Sunday.

The measures in the bill had been agreed with the troika earlier this month. Greece had to adopt them to qualify for further bailout funding.

Athens now expects to receive 8.8 billion euros by mid-May. It is expected that the disbursement of 2.8 billion euros of this money will be approved by the Euro Working Group on April 29.

Most of the attention was on the layoffs in the civil service. Although the number of public sector employees has fallen steadily since the start of the crisis, this is the first time that the government will directly dismiss bureaucrats. They will, however, be replaced by new hires.

Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis explained to MPs how the government would choose the 15,000 civil servants it has to lay off.

“This numbers will not be made up exclusively from the 25,000 employees who will enter the mobility scheme, as some have wrongly suggested,” he said.

“The mobility scheme is not connected to the 15,000 departures.”

Manitakis said that the civil servants would come from five areas. The first to go would be those who are found guilty of offenses. Manitakis said some 1,500 civil servants are due to face disciplinary panels.

Bureaucrats who work at organizations that are merged or disbanded will also lose their jobs. The evaluation process currently taking place would lead to some public servants losing their jobs, Manitakis said.

The minister added that any public sector employees who have been forced to move jobs or are in a labor reserve scheme would be given the option of voluntary redundancy.

Finally, Manitakis said that the terms under which each civil servant has been hired would be checked and any hirings found to be serving under false pretences would be dismissed.

Sunday’s debate was heated at times, particularly at the end, when Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras introduced a last-minute amendment that allows the minimum wage to be passed in some circumstances.

The amendment allows local authorities to make short-term hires that under-25s to be hired for up to 427 euros per month, which is some 80 euros less than the minimum young Greeks are paid at the moment.

For over-25s, the monthly wage for these programs can be 490 euros a month, which is 90 euros less than the standard minimum wage.

Opposition parties complained that the amendment was submitted without prior notice and only a few minutes before the vote was due to take place.

They also complained that the minimum wage was being by-passed. Stournaras defended the measure.

“It is true that 490 euros is a low wage but do not forget that in these cases we are talking about unemployed people,” he said. “This will be a relief for them.”

Online