Civil service cuts fuel anger of staff, Thessaloniki mayor

Plans to streamline the civil service foreseeing the induction of thousands of municipal police officers and local authority workers into a mobility scheme that would result in them receiving reduced pay ahead of a status review prompted angry protests on Monday, with thousands taking to the streets in Athens and Thessaloniki. It was not just workers who reacted angrily as Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris threatened to quit over the scheme, complaining that local authority officials had not been briefed.

“We’ve had no official notification from the state about the municipal police,” Boutaris said, adding that it would be impossible to police Thessaloniki without municipal officers. “If this goes ahead, I will hand over the keys to City Hall,” he said. Municipal police officers staged a rally in Thessaloniki to protest the initiative while in Athens some 5,000 local authority workers took to the streets, hundreds of them on motorcycles. There were no reports of any violence but the protest in the capital caused traffic chaos.

Meanwhile an Athens prosecutor ordered a probe into an assault on Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis on Sunday following a meeting with other mayors. The head of the municipal workers’ union (POE-OTA), Themis Balasopoulos, denied Kaminis’s claims that he had instigated the assault, suggesting that “fascists” had been behind the attack which left the mayor with minor injuries.

In a related development, the Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) issued a report showing that one in two Greeks believes municipalities are key democratic institutions. But the same study found that 44 percent of Greeks deemed the services of local authorities to be “average.” An exception are Citizens Advice Bureaus (KEPs), which 85 percent of those questioned deemed to be “satisfactory.”

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