Civil service overhaul tests coalition

Six hundred university administrative staff who were suspended last year as part of a civil service mobility scheme are set to get their jobs back after an agreement between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner Evangelos Venizelos late on Sunday resolved a dispute between two ministries over the number of employees who should be rehired.

However a broader rift within the coalition regarding the government’s ability to curb the public sector without fueling political tensions remained unsolved.

Sources close to Samaras indicated on Monday that Athens would not seek a renegotiation of the terms of the mobility scheme with the troika, essentially rejecting a proposal by Venizelos for a review.

The decision to rehire the 600 university staff followed a dispute between new Education Minister Andreas Loverdos and Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The former had argued that 880 staff should be rehired with the latter saying the number should be limited to 500. A total of 1,134 university staff were put into the mobility scheme last fall.

Mitsotakis described the solution as “satisfactory.” Loverdos, for his part, noted that no civil servants should be dismissed until the completion of an evaluation process over the next few weeks. The new minister met with university rectors on Monday and, according to sources, academics alleged that his predecessor, Constantinos Arvanitopoulos, had done “under-the-table” deals to rehire certain civil servants.

The National Technical University of Athens remained closed on Monday as staff continued a protest while Athens University employees met to discuss their course of action.