NEWS

Head-on collision with civil servants looms

The government appears to be heading for a collision with civil servants next month, as their union has suggested that its members who work in revenue collection departments could go on strike, thereby hampering the effort to get public finances on track.

The civil servants? union, ADEDY, has expressed serious objections over the past few days to the government?s plans to make further cuts to bureaucrats? salaries and supplementary payments. Public sector workers have already seen the 14 monthly salaries they receive each year slashed by up to a third since the government began implementing spending cuts early last year.

?The cuts to wages and pensions must stop,? ADEDY head Spyros Papaspyrou told Kathimerini on Wednesday.

In an earlier interview, Papaspyrou had suggested that the union would organize strikes aimed at disrupting the government?s efforts to collect revenues in the hope that this would bring PASOK to the negotiating table.

Papaspyrou was coy when questioned about this by Kathimerini. ?It is clear that a strike would entail all workers taking part, both those who work in collection departments and those in administrative services,? he said. ?ADEDY is in favor of coordinated and focused actions.?

There had been a suggestion earlier this week that ADEDY would ask members to participate in a work-to-rule protest, which could possibly be ruled illegal. However, the union said it is planning an all-out, legal strike. Government spokesman Ilias Mossialos questioned whether this would be the case.

?Isn?t refusing to collect taxes a work-to-rule protest?? he told Skai TV. ?We are playing with words.? Mossialos added that any civil servants breaking the law would be brought before disciplinary committees.