Coalition agrees strategy for target of 5,000 dismissals in public sector

Amid an attempt to ease the tension between coalition partner PASOK and Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the government agreed on Friday to step up efforts to ensure that the vast majority of 6,500 sackings it needs to make in the civil service come from public servants who have committed offenses or who have illegally been put on permanent contracts.

Mitsotakis and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos met on Friday with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to discuss the Socialists’ concerns about public sector reforms. PASOK has expressed reservations about the dismissals and the evaluation of civil service staff, which Mitsotakis wants to push ahead with.

Venizelos’s party has already gained some concessions from Mitsotakis with regard to the evaluation. It was agreed on Friday that an amendment would be added to the omnibus bill submitted to Parliament this week clarifying that no civil servants will lose their jobs if they score poor marks in the evaluation. Instead, those achieving the lowest 15 percent of results will receive extra training or be transferred to other departments. MPs are due to vote on the multi-bill on Wednesday.

It was agreed during Friday’s meeting that the government would step up efforts to check the contracts of public sector workers who were on short-term deals that were turned into permanent agreements under questionable circumstances. Inspectors are currently checking 5,300 such contracts at a number of municipalities around the country.

Other areas from where the sackings could come include checks for civil servants who gained their jobs with forged certificates and those who have committed offenses while serving in the public sector. So far this year about 500 public sector workers have been dismissed after going through the disciplinary process.

The government also wants to convince the troika to count the release of 1,800 contract workers towards the target of 5,000 employees. These civil servants have appealed against their dismissals and a final court decision is pending.

Venizelos made it clear on Friday that he wants to keep any dismissals beyond these groups to a minimum. He insisted that nobody should be fired from public transport due to fears that this would provoke a union backlash against the government.