Only a few days after it was sworn in, Greece’s new cabinet was embroiled in a tug of war on Thursday over how many university administrative employees who were placed in a labor pool last year could be rehired later this month.
The issue landed in the lap of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras less than three days after his new ministerial lineup was announced, as he hosted talks between the two government members involved in the dispute: Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (photo) and Education Minister Andreas Loverdos.
Loverdos, backed by Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos, believes that the government should rehire as many as 880 of the 1,134 staff that were placed in a public sector mobility scheme last year. Their eight-month period in the labor pool comes to an end on June 15 and those who are not rehired or moved to other positions will be dismissed.
Mitsotakis, however, insists that the government cannot afford to rehire more than 500 university employees as it has to also abide by the target for civil service sackings it agreed with the troika. Greece pledged last year that it would fire 15,000 civil servants by the end of 2014.
Apart from creating difficulties for the coalition in respect to it needing to find 380 civil servants to fire from other departments, Mitsotakis also believes that changing the numbers now might send out the message that the government is relenting in its efforts to carry out structural reforms.
Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund warned that “adjustment fatigue has set in” and that the government is finding it “difficult to move forward boldly and swiftly with needed reforms.”
Thursday’s disagreement came as an article by the new government spokesperson, Sofia Voultepsi, in which she questions the role of technocrats, was published online. In the piece, Voultepsi argues that technocrats offer “the safe road toward catastrophe.” She also criticizes the liberalization measures recommended by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), labeling them a “technocratic creation” that had failed to bring down prices.
New Democracy announced on Thursday that former Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis would become its parliamentary spokesman.