Government approves pending prior actions with eye on aid


The government approved a clutch of pending prior actions in Parliament Friday with all 153 of the coalition’s MPs backing the reforms in a bid to avoid any unpleasant surprises at a Eurogroup meeting planned for June 15.

The measures – which include a freeze on pensions until 2022 and the restriction of the rights of private sector workers – were tagged onto a separate bill on European fishing regulations in the Mediterranean.

It was an apparent bid by the government to minimize protests over the measures. But the tactic added to vehement debate in the House. It also fueled angry protests outside with members of the Communist-affiliated union PAME throwing boxes of sardines in the area in front of Parliament.

The bill passed into law with the support of the 153 MPs of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks, with 84 lawmakers voting against it and 63 absences.

The MPs of PASOK and the Communist Party walked out ahead of the vote and some legislators from other parties also boycotted the ballot. Addressing Parliament before she led her MPs out, PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata accused the government of lying to the Greek people and said its approval of additional measures had “humiliated” the administration.

The leader of the main opposition New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, for his part, declared that “society cannot take any more” and reiterated his call for early elections.

Earlier in the day Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Labor Minister Effie Achtsioglou sought to play down the impact of the new measures.

Tsakalotos is to meet his eurozone counterparts on June 15 for a Eurogroup meeting that Athens expects will lead to the release of bailout funding necessary to pay down debt maturing in July. Greece is also hoping for an explicit commitment from creditors to debt relief.

Meanwhile, an annual report by Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP) showed that hirings of permanent staff in the public sector has been limited as opposed to the rising number of contract workers.

More specifically, ASEP’s report said that a record number of 12,215 contract workers were hired in the public sector in 2016. At the same time, there were 5,584 permanent staff openings.

Overall, ASEP said that there was a 21.31 percent increase in hirings of seasonal and casual workers in the state sector over the last four years, while it noted a drop of 5.6 percent in hirings of permanent staff.

According to the ASEP report breakdown, 62 percent of the permanent staff was hired at the Health Ministry and its related departments, while 11.19 percent were hired by the Justice Ministry.

As for seasonal staff, 40 percent was hired by the the Ministry of Interior and Administrative Reform – most of which were used to deal with the refugee crisis.