New coalition rift looms over bill axing state bodies

A day after a parliamentary committee challenged a government plan to shut down 21 state organizations as part of troika-imposed cost-cutting measures, MPs in the junior coalition partner PASOK indicated that they would vote down a legislative provision foreseeing the abolition of one of the state bodies.

The objections expressed by several PASOK deputies to Article 8 of a bill drafted by Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – which axes the National Institute of Labor and Human Resources (EIEAD), a Labor Ministry body – represent the latest rift in the fragile coalition over reforms Greece has pledged to its international creditors.

The PASOK dissenters have asked for the vote in Parliament to be conducted by roll call to draw attention to those who support the measure.

Asked about the objections of PASOK MPs in the corridors of Parliament, Mitsotakis was defiant and said he would not withdraw the article. “I have not heard any convincing counterarguments in favor of the EIEAD,” said the minister. “Let’s have a vote by roll call and let everyone assume their responsibilities,” he added.

Meanwhile there are also concerns in the government following calls by the main opposition SYRIZA, which opposes the terms of Greece’s bailout terms with its creditors, for a roll call to be held for several more provisions of the same bill including those regarding the labor rights of employees of the bodies that are being abolished and matters relating to a so-called mobility scheme of forced transfers and layoffs in the civil service.

Earlier in the day, in Parliament’s plenary session, Mitsotakis clashed with outspoken SYRIZA MP Panayiotis Lafazanis over the bill to ax the state organizations, with the latter accusing the former of trying to demolish the state.