After row, parties agree to extend civil servants’ hours

The government accused New Democracy of political opportunism on Thursday after the main opposition party wavered over whether it would support a change to the law that will lead to civil servants working 40 rather than 37.5 hours each week.

Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis accused ND leader Antonis Samaras of using his party as a personal vehicle. ?This is just another example of the constant contradiction caused by the choice of ND?s leader for the last year and a half to put his personal interests ahead of those of the nation or his party,? he said.

The minister launched his attack after ND said it would vote for a law forcing public servants to work an extra 2.5 hours each week.

Earlier, the conservatives had suggested that they might block the amendment because they were not convinced by Ragousis?s claim that by increasing civil servants? hours, it would be like hiring an extra 45,000 people in the public sector at no extra cost.

?We did not position ourselves to be dogmatically against an increase in working hours but we called on you to back up your claims,? said ND deputy Christos Zois. ?What is your plan? Where is the study that you based your projections on??

Ragousis said that he would not give explanations about how the government arrived at its figures. ?We said that we are making this amendment to save costs on 45,000 civil servants but even if it was just 10 employees, we would still back this amendment.

?It is a matter of principle and responsibility for private sector employees on the one hand and public sector workers on the other.?

Ragousis has suggested that the reform would save Greece 1 billion euros but he has also stressed that the government wants more of a balance between the working demands on private and public sector employees.

Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) expressed its support for the government?s measure, while the Communist Party and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) were opposed.

Speaking to Skai TV on Thursday morning, Ragousis said that Greece?s 750,000 civil servants are likely to be working longer hours before the end of the month.

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