Wage rulings tax government

The coalition’s leadership was on Wednesday seeking to head off a series of potential mini-rebellions by government lawmakers over troika-mandated reforms after five conservative MPs threatened to vote against an amendment revoking cuts to the income of judges unless similar reductions in the incomes of other civil servants are also reversed.

The Finance Ministry submitted an amendment to Parliament on Tuesday abolishing cuts to the salaries and pensions of judges that have been enforced since August 2012 as part of Greece’s commitments to international creditors. The move came a day after a court ruled that retroactive cuts to the judges’ pensions were unconstitutional.

However, in a joint statement on Wednesday New Democracy MPs Ilias Vlachoyiannis, Iordanis Tzamtzis, Theodoros Soldatos, Pavlos Voyiatzis and Dimitrios Kyriazidis threatened to vote down the amendment unless cuts to the wages of police and armed forces employees are also revoked.

High-ranking government officials noted that measures have already been taken to lighten the burden on police and armed forces staff who were among the beneficiaries of the so-called “social dividend” distributed last month after Greece recorded a primary budget surplus. The same officials noted that, unlike the court decision regarding the judges, which was issued late last year, a Council of State ruling ordering salary cuts for police officers and armed forces staff was issued this year and therefore has not been budgeted for.

There were fears meanwhile that other rulings could prompt similar reactions by other lawmakers. Another ND MP, Evripidis Stylianidis, called on the government to honor a court ruling issued in May and rehire hundreds of Finance Ministry cleaners who have been put into a mobility scheme for civil servants.

Commenting on the case of the cleaners, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that rehiring them in the absence of a final decision by the Supreme Court, which is expected in the fall, would challenge the foundations of a mobility scheme which Greece has promised the troika it will enforce.

Interior Minister Argyris Dinopoulos, for his part, emphasized that Greece would honor its pledges to the troika to lay off civil servants.