Gov?t, civil service at loggerheads

A row between the government and the civil servants? union (ADEDY) escalated on Friday after the union leader, Spyros Papaspyrou, slammed government spokesman Ilias Mosialos for suggesting that civil servants striking over pay cuts would face penalties.

Papaspyrou indicated that Mosialos had overstepped the mark by hinting at sackings of civil servants – whose jobs are protected by Greek law. ?Has the government decided that it will abolish the Constitution before it has even reformed it?? Papaspyrou told the Real FM radio station.

Mosialos reacted to the union leader?s comments by calling on civil servants to focus on their jobs. ?The chief duty of every civil servant is to work for the common good,? Mosialos said, adding that ?everyone has their responsibilities and they will be judged by the general public.?

Several other members of ruling PASOK, including Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, threw their support behind Mosialos, indicating that a work-to-rule protest by civil servants – in the middle of such a critical period for Greece – would be ?unacceptable.?

The dispute began on Thursday when, in an apparent attempt to head off a confrontation with civil servants, Mosialos said that the government would take action if there is a go-slow protest.

His comments came after Papaspyrou said that members would react to continuing salary and benefit cuts, as well as the lengthening of their working week from 37.5 hours to 40.

The union leader had suggested that employees at tax offices might stop collecting taxes after a certain hour each day. Mosialos condemned this form of protest, saying it would be ?to the detriment of the Greek people.?

In a related development, as the crisis gripping the eurozone deepened, Prime Minister George Papandreou called for European Union leaders to ?immediately implement? their promises of support to Greece.

In a letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Papandreou also echoed the concerns of the EC official about widespread doubts in the markets. ?Recent developments reflect a growing skepticism about the systemic capacity of the euro area to respond to the ongoing crisis,? Papandreou wrote, adding that ?constant efforts and further institutional improvements are necessary if we are to remain ahead of developments and not trailing them.?