Police threat over refusal to pay bonus

The pressure on the government from striking primary school teachers may have eased temporarily but the ruling conservatives could soon be facing the wrath of police officers over bonus payments. Police officers said yesterday that if talks on Friday between Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras fail to lead to an agreement on extra monthly allowances for law enforcers, they will begin industrial action. The law prohibits police officers from going on strike but the head of the Panhellenic Confederation of Police Employees (POASY), Dimitris Kyriazidis, said that officers would refuse to take on any tasks beyond their basic duties. «We are determined to block sideline tasks – jobs which have been dumped on the police but are not exclusively the duty of the force,» said POASY’s general secretary, Antonis Botaitis. These tasks may include the authentication of signatures and issuing of new identity cards and passports. «Policing will not stop and we will still respond to calls from citizens and emergency situations,» added Botaitis. Officers are also considering using their patrol cars to advertise their cause, possibly by displaying banners, sources said. The policemen want the ruling conservatives to live up to pre-election pledges to increase bonus payments to the police. The officers want the government to grant members of the police force a monthly bonus payment of 8 percent of their basic salary. Alogoskoufis has so far appeared reluctant to agree to the bonus, arguing that Greece’s public finances cannot afford the extra burden – the same reasoning that the government has used to support its refusal to increase teachers’ wages. Polydoras has threatened to resign if the bonuses are not paid. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos yesterday played down the rift. «All ministers approach problems which are their responsibility with the same vigor,» he said.

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