Outlook unclear for OA payoffs

Some 4,500 laid-off employees of the former state-carrier Olympic Air (OA) will probably receive their compensation in installments, it emerged yesterday after four top-ranking Cabinet members discussed the matter at Maximos Mansion. According to sources, Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis emphasized during yesterday’s meeting, which was chaired by State Minister Haris Pamboukis, that state coffers do not contain the 260 million euros needed to pay off the ex-OA staff. The same sources told Kathimerini that the likeliest scenario is the disbursement of 50 million euros to fund one initial payment. This would be done chiefly to appease angry workers, some of whom occupied the offices of the General Accounting Office for nine days earlier this month. It remained unclear yesterday when, or even if, the remaining 210 million euros would be paid to laid-off staff. If the cash is found for subsequent installments, it is expected that employees who were on lower salaries would be favored. Sources told Kathimerini that former OA employees were concerned at the government’s failure to set out a time frame for the disbursement of the compensation. A law introduced by the previous conservative administration not only foresees compensation payouts to all laid-off OA staff but also the payment of a 500-euro monthly income supplement to former employees who are being transferred to other posts in the public sector. The aim of the latter provision had been to ensure that the employees’ salaries remained at roughly the same level as when they worked for OA. Some estimates have put the cost of the government making good on the OA law as high as 1.3 billion euros. According to the General Accounting Office, which calculates and dispenses civil servants’ pensions, the OA law will cost insurance funds alone some 650 million euros.

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