The government is opening up certain jobs in the public sector, including local authorities, to part-time employees in order to combat unemployment. A draft bill prepared by the Interior Ministry allows public administration bodies and local authorities to hire part-time employees for 24 months in positions of «social work.» Specifically, the fields of «social work» include at-home care for the elderly or the incapacitated, guarding school buildings, catering to pupils’ road safety, the social integration of immigrants, dealing with civil protection and environmental emergencies, cultural activities, provision of information to the public, and «those actions mentioned in programs of a social nature funded by the European Union.» These part-time employees will be able to work for up to 20 hours per week. Two months after the expiration of their original contract, they may apply for a renewal. The hirings will not be made directly by the State or local administration; these bodies will sign contracts with non-profit companies to be set up for the purpose. The government hopes that at least 25,000 to 30,000 currently unemployed will find jobs through this program. The first hirings are expected to take place this summer. Providing jobs is also a necessity for the government. Recent polls show the governing Socialists trailing conservative New Democracy by at least seven percentage points. Asked about what the government could do in its remaining term – which expires next spring, although early elections can be called at any time – two-thirds of the respondents in a recent survey answered «provide jobs.» Initially, the government had thought of hiring part-timers in other public administration sectors as well. Its proposal was strongly opposed by ADEDY, the civil servants’ union, which had seen it as an insidious attempt to erode the civil servants’ right to lifetime employment. Not everyone will be eligible for these jobs. The draft bill sets specific quotas. Thirty-five percent will be hired from among the unemployed registered with the state human resources organization (OAED). Of these, up to 10 percent can be long-term unemployed. Another 25 percent will be chosen from among OAED-registered unemployed with less than five years’ work remaining until they are eligible for a pension. Another 20 percent of the positions will be covered by people aged under 30. The remaining 20 percent will go to mothers of children aged up to 12 years old (10 percent) and people with disabilities (10 percent). In the first three categories (the unemployed plus the young), 60 percent of the positions will be allotted to women, if there is a sufficient number of applications. The program will fall under the supervision of a three-member committee comprising the general secretaries of the Economy, Interior and Labor ministries. A five-member consultative committee will include the general secretary of the Interior Ministry, and representatives from ADEDY, OAED, the Central Union of Greek Municipalities (KEDKE) and the Union of Prefectural Administrations (ENAE). The program may provide temporary relief to some unemployed, but it is feared beneficiaries will follow the way of those already employed in the public sector on a contractual basis, who, when contracts come up for renewal, usually stage protests to claim permanent civil servant status.