NEWS

Greek MPs confronted by multi-bill heralding raft of wage, pensions and labor reforms

It was only submitted to Parliament on Monday night but the multi-bill that Greek MPs will vote on Wesnesday runs to more than 500 pages and contains legislation that affects everything from the level of public sector pay to what products can be sold in supermarkets.

The legislation sees the retirement age rising from 65 to 67 pensions between 1,000 and 1,500 euros being cut by 5 percent, those between 1,500 and 2,000 by 10 percent, and those over 2,000 by 15 percent. Christmas, Easter and holiday payments will be scrapped. Lump sum payments for people who enter retirement will be cut by up to 83 percent, depending on the sector.

During negotiations with the troika, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had wanted to preserve the so-called ?special salaries? in the civil service, which are paid to military personnel, security services, judges, doctors and judges. However, the multi-bill sets out cuts of 2 to about 30 percent for these public sector workers. Judges will suffer the biggest cuts, with their salaries being slashed by up to 30 percent.

Employees at public enterprises, known as DEKOs, face similar wage cuts as they will be inducted into the across-the-board pay structure for the civil service. This means that salaries will fall by 30 to 35 percent and a ceiling of 1,900 euros per month will be set. There will also be pay reductions for ministry staff, local authority workers, employees at the National Intelligence Service and the country?s president. Civil servants will lose their Christamas, Easter and holiday payments.

The bill paves the way for 2,000 civil servants to be given this year notice of redundancy that allows them to receive 75 percent of their wages for a year before being fired if no other position can be found for them. A further 6,250 civil servants will be dimissed in the same way every three months next year. The limit on one hiring for every five workers that leave will remain in place until 2016.

In terms of labor regulations, the bill gives the government the right to set the minimum wage as of April next year, reduces the redundancy notice period and limits compensation for workers with more than 16 years of service.

The draft legislation also foresees the deregulation of 14 professions, which will affect lawyers and engineers, among others. The bill seeks to remove barriers in other sectors, such as allowing supermarkets to sell tobacco products. It also gives store owners the right to ask employees to work more flexible hours, which could pave the way for Sunday openings.