Layoffs in public sector ‘last resort’

The minister in charge of overseeing an overhaul of the bloated public sector on Wednesday avoided stating outright that mass layoffs are on the cards, noting that the dismissal of civil servants would be a last resort and that efforts would be made to keep staff facing redundancy on a ?labor reserve? list.

All other options will be exhausted before any decision is made regarding layoffs, said Dimitris Reppas who heads the new Ministry for Administrative Reform and e-Governance.

Many of the employees of public utilities or state bodies that are due to be abolished will be transfered to other posts in the public sector, he said. Other staff will be kept on for a year at 60 percent of their salary before being dismissed and would then have priority for part-time positions as and when these arise.

The main conservative opposition, New Democracy, has proposed that civil servants who face redundancy get a better deal. Those aged over 50 should kept on at a reduced salary until their retirement, ND says, while those aged between 40 and 50 should get a reduced wage for six years and those aged 30 to 40 for three years.

The government has until the fall to draft an across-the-board salary structure for the public sector.

In a related development, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the considerable assets of the Orthodox Church should not be included in a State Property Fund to be set up once the government concludes an inventory of public real estate. Further, the wages of clerics — who are civil servants — will not be cut further, Venizelos said after talks with Archbishop Ieronymos who pledged to help ease the impact of the debt crisis but did not specify how.

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