Gov’t may ask troika for more time for second round of civil servant scheme

As workers’ unions heralded industrial action to protest an overhaul of the civil service pledged by the government to the country’s troika of international lenders, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is overseeing the cutbacks, suggested Tuesday that Athens might ask the troika for an extension to a December 31 deadline for inducting a second round of 12,500 civil servants into a mobility scheme.

Mitsotakis had insisted that the government is on track for putting a first round of 12,500 public sector workers into the scheme, which puts staff on reduced pay ahead of their transfer to another post or dismissal, by the end of next month. But he appeared to concede on Tuesday that it will not be so easy to put another 12,500 employees into the same scheme a few months later, as Greece has promised the troika. “We shall see. We don’t want to make any hasty moves,” Mitsotakis said when asked by reporters on Mega TV whether he planned to broach the matter with troika mission chiefs on their scheduled return to Athens at the end of September. “We will discuss this in a month’s time,” he said. Sources indicated that such a request is only likely to be made in the event that the troika issues a positive report on Greece’s progress with economic reforms.

Questioned about layoffs in the civil service, which Greece must also carry out in parallel to the mobility scheme, Mitsotakis said the majority of dismissals would involve civil servants who have been found guilty of disciplinary offenses. He added however that some would come from the ranks of public sector workers put into the mobility scheme.

Meanwhile, unions representing sectors of the civil service most directly affected by the overhaul were planning to scale up their protests. Members of the Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME) convened Tuesday to discuss strike action which is reportedly likely to start around mid-September. A final decision by OLME is expected on Thursday and will subsequently be put to local unions for approval.

Mitsotakis indicated in comments to Mega TV that authorities will fight back if teachers go ahead with planned strike action next month. “The government will not tolerate closed schools, not even for a day,” he said. “We can’t have a situation where nothing changes so that certain people can retain their privileges,” he added.