Stournaras tries to end impasse over civil service jobs

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is due to meet Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manatakis on Friday to discuss plans to reduce the number of civil servants via a labor reserve scheme, whose potential introduction has split the coalition government.

Manatakis is one of those within the alliance who have expressed reservations about reintroducing the labor pool as a way of reducing the number of people employed in the public sector and, therefore, spending.

Under the proposal, as many as 45,000 civil servants would be removed from their posts and would continue to receive up to 70 percent of their salary for at least a year, Finance Ministry sources said.

The measure, which was abandoned last year after some 7,000 departures, is opposed by PASOK and Democratic Left. Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, chosen by Democratic Left, suggested on Thursday that the labor reserve could fall down if challenged in court.

?As justice minister and thinking legally, it is a set of measures that does not led anywhere,? he said. ?Courts have already ruled that the labor reserve clashes with the constitution.?

Manitakis, also a Democratic Left choice, met on Thursday with PASOK MP Giorgos Dolios, who is the party?s spokesman on civil service issues. After the meeting, Dolios was clear about PASOK?s objections.

?For this measure to be adopted, the coalition?s policy agreement has to be changed,? he said. ?The pre-election pledge that there would be no sackings in the civil service remains.?

Dolios explained that PASOK is basing its reluctance on two main points. ?We must not heighten the sense of insecurity in the civil service at a time when we are asking them to play a part in the reform of the public sector,? he said.

?Also, the previous experience with the measure did not produce the expected result.?

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou would not be drawn on specific measures as the government tries to find the remaining 5 billion euros of savings needed to meet the target of 11.5 billion over the next two years. ?All options are open, I won?t confirm or deny anything,? he said.