Ministers’ row over civil service contract workers prompts PM to speed up reshuffle

The coalition was forced into an embarrassing climb-down on Thursday, withdrawing would-be legislation on civil service contract workers just minutes after it had been submitted to Parliament. The incident looks likely to speed up Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s plans for a cabinet reshuffle.

The amendment sought to stop contract workers whose agreements had ended from continuing to receive wages while they took legal action to make their positions permanent.

It is estimated that more than 10,000 contract workers have appealed to the courts to extend their deals. They continue to receive their salaries, pending final rulings. In some cases, the process has already being going on for several years.

Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis wanted to pass a law that would mean the contract workers would stop receiving their salaries once their employment ended.

This amendment was included in a multi-bill submitted to Parliament on Thursday and which has to be passed by the end of the week as part of Greece’s commitment to the troika.

However, the legislation regarding contract workers angered Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, who complained that he had not been consulted. The grievances were aired during a cabinet meeting yesterday, which led to the contentious amendment being withdrawn.

The incident was a particular embarrassment for the coalition’s junior partner, Democratic Left, as Roupakiotis and Manitakis are both its candidates.

Party leader Fotis Kouvelis is currently on a visit to Brussels, from where he suggested the legislation should cite a fixed time limit within which contract workers appeals should be heard.

Kathimerini understands the clash makes it more likely Samaras will reshuffle the Cabinet after Easter. PASOK is willing to take a more active role in the government. It is thought the Socialists will put forward three or four prominent figures, while Democratic Left will add another two of its candidates to the Cabinet.

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