Labour Research February 2012

European news

Greek job cuts hit trouble

Plans to cut public sector jobs in Greece by moving 28,000 civil servants into a labour reserve” have been described as “bordering on the absurd and ridiculous”, by Dimitris Reppas, the country’s minister for administrative reform.

Last month, he said that the scheme, under which “excess” civil servants are paid only 60% of their previous salary for a year before being dismissed, would not be used again.

It seems there were few immediate savings because most of those affected took early retirement.

The measure had been seen as a crucial part of the planned 150,000 reduction in the public sector workforce over three years. Instead, the Greek government is now planning to cut public sector employment by closing or merging state-owned companies and agencies.

It is also discussing measures to drive down private sector wages, through legislation which would remove the obligation on employers to pay the second stage of the national pay agreement, worth 2.6% and due in July, and to abolish the so-called 14th month payment — a bonus which workers receive at Easter and the summer. This has been sharply cut in the public sector.

The government is looking for a national consensus on the issues and the unions say they are willing to meet the employers to discuss reforms.

However, Yiannis Panagopoulos, president of the main union confederation the GSEE, has said: “They can raise any issue they want, as long as it is not to do with wage costs.”