In a bid to try and deflate the country’s ballooning public sector, the government said yesterday that civil servants employed at state-owned companies will no longer enjoy job-for-life status. The government submitted to Parliament a draft bill that subjects newly hired staff at public utilities (DEKO) to the same conditions as exist in the private sector, ending their permanent employment status. Ministers defended the change in work relations by arguing that it will benefit the taxpayer and lead to an improvement in the services offered. «Foundations are being put into place that allow for the improved operation of public utilities,» Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said after a lengthy Cabinet meeting on the issue. The change will affect employees at enterprises that are both listed and non-listed on the Athens bourse. «Work regulations at all public corporations will be gradually brought into line with those of the private sector. This will apply to employees hired from now onward and will not affect the current staff,» government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said. PASOK said that the government is basing its much heralded reforms agenda on labor relations that are hurting workers. «The government is unable to suggest the necessary development and strategic planning for public companies and is focusing operational changes on employment relations instead,» said PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis. The reform of state companies will also require them to report earnings under International Accounting Standards – a move that will make them much more attractive to foreign investors. Job hiring procedures are in for a change depending on the stake the government holds in the company. In the event that the state holds less than 50 percent in a DEKO, such as OTE Telecom and refiner Hellenic Petroleum, then the state-controlled Supreme Council for Personnel Selection (ASEP) will no longer have a say in the hiring of personnel.