NEWS

Rift in PASOK over civil service

A row appeared to have broken out within the ranks of ruling PASOK on Thursday over the government?s plans for wage cuts and possible dismissals in the broader civil service, with nine Socialist MPs writing a letter to Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos condemning the scheme and prominent PASOK cadres slamming Health Minister Andreas Loverdos over the latter?s scathing comments about civil servants.

In their letter to Venizelos, which was also addressed to Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas, the nine MPs described as ?completely mistargeted? a scheme according to which all civil servants would be liable for ?labor standby status,? which would see them receiving 60 percent of their basic salary for 12 months. Government spokesman Ilias Mossialos fleshed the plan out on Thursday, noting that authorities were planning the evaluation of the first group of 200,000 civil servants with the aim of absorbing 40 percent of them and putting the other 60 percent on labor standby status.

Accusing the government of following a proposal by the conservative opposition New Democracy party, the MPs called instead for the transfer of surplus employees from overstaffed offices to understaffed ones.

?Instead of enforcing the reactionary proposal of ND, and the dismissals this will lead to, the government should proceed with immediate transfers to cover vacancies in crucial sectors,? the letter said.

In a related development, prominent PASOK cadres slammed Loverdos for telling a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that civil servants are to blame for Greece?s economic woes when he said that ?1 million employees have been burdening the other 10 million.?

Apostolos Kaklamanis, a former Parliament speaker and ex-minister, accused Loverdos of ?discrediting hundreds and thousands of people.? Meanwhile PASOK MP Spyros Vougias, a former deputy minister, told Skai Radio that Loverdos had been wrong to generalize.

Mossialos defended Loverdos, however, noting that the minister?s stance expressed the government?s position on the matter of the civil service. As for Loverdos, he was unrepentant. ?I am not afraid to say what I think,? he told Parliament.