In a move that many are describing as a bid to lure voters, Interior Minister Panos Skourletis announced on Friday that the number of permanent municipal sanitation staff will be increased from 6,500 to 8,800.
Speaking to state-run TV on Friday, Skourletis said the hirings – announced at a time of fiscal constraints – will meet “municipalities’ real needs.”
But critics said he is simply pandering to municipal workers’ unions and giving in to their every demand.
According to information gleaned so far, Kathimerini understands that Greece’s lenders have said that they have no objectives to the hirings.
The move will not burden the budget as wages of sanitation staff at local authorities are covered by municipal levies paid by citizens.
However, many local authorities have said that they do not have the necessary funds to make the hirings and this could possibly force them to increase municipal levies.
Skourletis sought to clarify that contract workers currently working at municipal cleaning service are not necessarily the ones who will be hired, as all qualified people will be considered for the positions, he said.
The estimated 10,000 contract workers currently employed in municipalities’ sanitation departments will remain at their posts until March 31, 2018 at the latest, when their contracts expire.
Earlier in the year, Skourletis had sought to extend those contracts beyond their initial 24-month limit but was forced to back down after the Council of State ruled it would violate the Constitution and European Union law.
Skourletis’s eagerness to please unions was also apparent in his decision earlier this year to oversee collective labor agreements for employees working at local government organizations (OTA), which stipulated fewer working hours and more holiday leave and paved the way for more hirings down the line.
Moreover, after last Wednesday’s 24-hour strike called by the municipal workers’ union (POE-OTA) he promised more such “interventions.” Workers’ rights and the needs of local authorities are the two main issues that the Interior Ministry is focused on, he said