Another round of marathon talks between government and troika officials ran late into the night on Wednesday as the two sides struggled to reach a compromise on a contentious plan for layoffs in the civil service.
Before entering a second round of talks on Wednesday, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told reporters that negotiations were unlikely to be resolved by Friday’s informal Eurogroup summit in Dublin and would continue next week. “There are lots of issues still open,” Stournaras said, dousing speculation that agreement had been reached in other areas including the possible reduction of a controversial property tax. The minister, who is to travel to Dublin on Thursday, insisted that there was no “blockage” in talks and that there would be “no problem” with the release of further rescue funding, though he gave no indication about when Greece can hope to receive two loan tranches worth 2.8 billion euros and 6 billion euros respectively.
Although it is Stournaras who has been spearheading the government’s talks with the troika, the real pressure is on Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis, who is overseeing the civil service overhaul. According to a leaked document forming the basis of talks on the civil service, troika officials have a set of demands. These reportedly include the completion of staffing plans for 275,000 employees, the immediate placing of 8,500 state workers into a mobility scheme, the dismissal of 2,000 civil servants accused of disciplinary offenses, and the approval of a plan for the gradual dismissal of a total of 20,000 state workers by the end of 2014 (of these, 7,500 should leave by the end of this year).
The troika wants the first phase of dismissals to involve 2,000 “oath-breaking” civil servants and has accepted a Greek request for these workers to be replaced by new recruits, Kathimerini understands. Manitakis claims this is not so straightforward as disciplinary cases must be resolved before staff can be
dismissed. Sources said the government was drafting a bill to accelerate the process of the disciplinary hearings though Stournaras denied this on Wednesday.
The issue appeared to be driving a wedge between conservative New Democracy, which leads the coalition, and the Democratic Left party, to which Manitakis belongs. Democratic Left MPs claimed that four conservative ministers – holding the Health, Labor, Education and Interior portfolios – were to blame for the delay in civil service reform, not Manitakis.