NEWS

Coalition tweaks multi-bill in bid to pacify armed forces, emergency services

Parliament is expected to begin on Thursday poring over the details of the extensive omnibus bill submitted to the House on Tuesday, although the government is continuing to make last minute changes to the draft legislation.

A parliamentary committee will begin examining the multi-bill before MPs debate its contents with the aim of holding a vote on the package of reforms on Wednesday next week. The omnibus bill contains legislation needed for Greece to secure its next bailout sub-tranche of 1 billion euros.

However, even on Wednesday the coalition was making small changes to the bill. The government is particularly worried about the merging of auxiliary pension funds as this will affect the members of the armed forces and emergency services.

The coalition is already in a dispute with these two groups as it has yet to implement a court decision that calls for their wages to be restored to the same level as in 2012, before the government cut them by 10 percent. As a result, members of the armed services and emergency services are considering taking legal action against the government.

Now, the members of the same groups face seeing their auxiliary pensions slashed by as much as 50 percent as a result of the merging of funds. This has prompted a number of high-ranking officers nearing their retirement age to take an early pension. Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis and Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias have conveyed to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras the discontent of the army, navy, air force, police, coast guard and fire service.

In order to lighten the blow on these civil servants, the government amended the relevant legislation in the multi-bill yesterday so that the reduction in auxiliary pensions for those retiring from the armed forces or emergency services would not be so sudden. Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said the change was aimed to ensure that “any adjustments happen gradually and over a long period of time.”

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