ECONOMY

Public sector pay beats inflation

Public servants will receive monthly pay raises of between 3.9 and 6.4 percent next year, progressively depending on category, according to the new pay structure proposed by the government in the final round of negotiations yesterday. Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said the proposals make for a more rational structure of expenditure for public sector salaries and pensions, promote meritocracy and narrow the gap of salaries from the rest of the EU; he also promised pension increases above inflation, to be considered at a future meeting. The new structure incorporates a number of benefits, including part of performance incentives, into the basic salary, and introduces benefits related to education, level of responsibility and conditions of work. The new, higher basic salaries will form the basis for pensions. According to sources, Christodoulakis refused to commit himself on future improvements of the structure, arguing it was not legitimate to commit future governments. Under the proposals, basic salaries across the four categories will range from 590 euros for new hirings of minimum education to 1,391 euros for a public servant with college education before retirement. Union officials complained that the proposals do not amount to a new pay structure, and do not guarantee a rise of the minimum basic monthly salary to 1,050 euros in the next three years, nor the narrowing of gaps between categories. The increases will cost public coffers an estimated 50 percent more than in 2003.