End for lifetime jobs

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis set himself on a collision course with civil servants and unionists yesterday as he said he will look to end lifetime job tenure for new employees in the public sector as he laid out his proposals for the reform of the constitution. «We propose to allow public and broader public sector positions to be filled by employees on indefinite contracts and not just permanent civil servants,» he said during a briefing of his conservative deputies in Parliament. Karamanlis’s comments immediately drew criticism from the civil servants’ union, ADEDY, which promised to «stand decisively and dynamically against the clear will and position of the government to end the permanency of civil servants.» ADEDY said that jobs for life were linked to the public nature of the civil services, whose main aim is to serve citizens. The union said that civil servants had recently been the victims of «anti-social propaganda» which aimed to prepare the ground for the prime minister’s proposals. ADEDY said it planned to make its own ideas public soon. Karamanlis is unlikely to be deterred by ADEDY’s reaction as the New Democracy government has made it clear that reforms to the public and private sector are key elements of its policy agenda. Despite opposition, a law which put an end to lifetime jobs at public utilities was passed last month, forming the final piece in the government’s labor reforms for 2005. Proposals for changes to the constitution will continue to be discussed, but Parliament will not vote on the ideas until after the next general election, which is due to take place by March 2008. Karamanlis put forward a number of other ideas yesterday, including a proposal to allow private universities to operate in Greece, which would help stem the flow of Greek students who go abroad for their higher education. «Greece can no longer… support with its money the development of graduates in other countries and the creation of jobs abroad,» he said. The premier also suggested that the review of the constitution should lead to the creation of a constitutional court. It would be responsible for ruling on the constitutionality of any new laws and monitoring the income of politicians and political parties. Another target during the reform process will be concentration in media ownership, said Karamanlis.

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