Minister insists target for civil servant firings will be met

The government has no intention of backing down over its commitment to firing civil servants this year and aims to complete their work evaluation despite objections from their union, ADEDY, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis insisted on Tuesday.

Last year Greece agreed that it would fire 15,000 civil servants by the end of this year. The government still has to find 6,500 public sector workers to dismiss in the next six months to fulfill this pledge to the troika. Mitsotakis said there was no way that the coalition would go back on this commitment, especially since it has another 600 or so “prior actions” to complete over the next few months.

“The number of fronts the government can open [with the troika] has already been surpassed,” Mitsotakis told Real FM on Tuesday.

The minister’s immediate task is overcoming a dispute with ADEDY, which has called on its members to refuse to take part in the evaluation process. A court ruled the union’s protest against the workers’ performance reviews illegal earlier this week but ADEDY has appealed.

POE-OTA, the union representing local authority employees, is also protesting the ministry’s attempts to review how civil servants on fixed-term contracts found themselves on open-ended deals in the past. The ministry accused POE-OTA’s leadership of being “anachronistic and regressive.”

The government has already begun preparing for the troika’s return in September for what is expected to be a long review of Greece’s adjustment program. Sources said that Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis has proposed to Greece’s lenders that they split the review in two, concentrating first on fiscal and structural targets before opening a discussion about the size of the country’s funding gap for 2015.

Hardouvelis believes that this will allow the troika to issue a positive report on Greece’s fiscal performance ahead of discussions with the eurozone about further debt relief, while leaving the issue of the fiscal gap to be resolved in October, once the European Central Bank has carried out its stress tests. Greece is still hoping that it can use a large chunk of the 11 billion euros remaining in its bank rescue fund to cover the 2015 funding gap.