Wage dispute hurts gov’t unity before troika return

Changes to the public sector wage structure are at the heart of a dispute within the coalition that has raised concerns about whether the government will be in a position to negotiate effectively when the troika returns to Athens.

The row broke out between PASOK and Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis after reports of changes to salary levels for civil servants. PASOK accused Mitsotakis of leaking the proposals and failing to consult with the junior coalition partner. The minister called on the Socialists to engage in calm dialogue and stressed that few civil servants would see their wages fall as a result of the changes.

“We were never invited to discuss a specific plan,” said PASOK’s Christos Protopappas. “The first time we learnt about it was from the newspapers.”

Deputy Labor Minister Vassilis Kegeroglou, from PASOK, said there had been no government decision for civil servants salaries to be reduced.

Mitsotakis said his aim is to change the salary brackets within the civil service because at the moment employees join the civil service with “high salaries in comparison to the private sector but leave with low salaries compared to the private sector.”

The minister received backing from New Democracy’s parliamentary spokesman Adonis Georgiadis. “Hands off Kyriakos Mitsotakis,” he said. “This is my message to PASOK. He is the government’s best minister. If the government is to fall, I would prefer it to be for a reform.”

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