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Greece forced to sack 15,500 public workers to keep EU funds

MPs have signed off on laws which enforce the first mandatory public layoffs in Greece for over a century.

Municipal workers chant anti-austerity slogans during a protest against government plans to lay off thousands of public sector workers.
Municipal workers chant anti-austerity slogans during a protest against government plans to lay off thousands of public sector workers.
Image: Petros Giannakouris/AP

THE PARLIAMENT in Greece has approved a bill which will pave the way for the sacking of 15,000 public workers.

The bill will see the first mandatory redundancies in Greece’s public sector for over 100 years.

Reducing the size of Greece’s public sector forms part of the terms and conditions for the bailout loans supplied by the European Union.

The plans will see 2,000 staff laid off by the end of May, another 2,000 let go by the end of the year, and a further 11,500 who will be let go throughout 2014.

The plans were passed by a comfortable majority of MPs, 168 to 123, mark a seachange in how public servants are seen in Greece.

Every Constitution which has been in place in Greece since 1911 has explicitly protected public workers, with specific guarantees that civil servants cannot be sacked simply because of a change in government.

AP explains that in order to get around this clause, the first redundancies will be achieved through the merger or abolition of various state agencies.

Those who have previously been found guilty of some degree of corruption – but who were protected from layoffs because of the constitutional protection – will also be among the first to go.

It also adds that in efforts to shorten the debate on the legislation – which could otherwise have taken days, if not weeks – the government included 110 pages of legislation in a single article, meaning it was put through in a single vote.

Because of this, the legislation was considered in just two days – and was able to bundle in a series of other revenue-raising measures like increasing penalties for the delayed payment of back taxes.

The New York Times said other controversial clauses included a clause allowing local authorities to hire young workers for less than the country’s statutory minimum wage, of €586 a month.

To mitigate the effects for the public, however, it also included a 15 per cent reduction in the country’s domestic property tax.

The legislation was considered on an emergency basis so that a meeting of Eurozone officials later today will approve the release of €2.8 billion in loans.

Read: Suicides, murders rise as Greek austerity takes health toll

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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