Civil servants eye extra ballot cash

In a move that could go against its own pledge to cut back on public spending in a bid to ease the impact of the economic crisis, the government is, according to sources, considering giving the green light to pay civil servants an extra 150 million euros for the overtime that they will put in to organize the European parliamentary elections. It is standard practice for public servants, such as policemen, coast guard officers, Interior Ministry employees and lawyers to be given more money for the work they do as support staff for the elections. However, in the last poll to be held – the general election of 2007 – the overtime payments to these civil servants totaled 60 million euros, less than half the amount that will have to be paid out this year. In 2007, electoral officials were paid 1,005 euros for ensuring the vote was carried out smoothly. Some 7,500 municipal and prefectural employees were also paid between 500 and 2,500 euros each. The extra money has been requested by the Interior Ministry but the Economy and Finance Ministry has yet to give its approval and, with just over a week to go to the June 7 Euro poll, no official decision on the matter has been published. Sources said that Economy Ministry officials are concerned that civil servants were already given a hefty hike in the electoral bonus that they received at the last election. The extra payment to police officers, for instance, rose by more than 25 percent from 750 euros to 950. Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis is reported to have told police unions that he will attempt to ensure that officers receive a 1,000-euro bonus this time around.

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