Crisis: Greece's new plan to lay off civil servants

A mix of early retirement incentives and stricter approach

23 August, 19:02

(ANSAMed) - ATHENS, AUGUST 23 - Slashing Greece's bloated public employee roster is among Premier Antonis Samaras' biggest challenges as he tries to comply with troika (EU-ECB-IMF) mandated spending cuts.

The public employee workforce, which numbers 750,000 or 6.8% of the population, has grown disproportionately in the past four decades, thanks to favoritism practiced by all the preceding governments. Last year's attempt to lay off 30,000 civil servants ultimately reduced them by 10,000.

The government, which must lay off 150,000 people by 2015 or fail to make the troika target, is about to enact a measure containing a new, undisclosed variant, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said. Journalistic rumor has it that the new twist consists of a mix of early retirement incentives and a stricter approach to civil servants who have broken the disciplinary code, or who scored low on the management evaluations that are now periodically being carried out in the public sector.

These employees will be suspended for a year at 75% of their salary, sources said. The bulk of those who leave are expected to accept the government's early retirement incentives for people who are just three years away from their pension, saving the state 160 million euros.

But Samaras' coalition partners might throw a spanner in the works, as unrest over the measure is growing within Democratic Left, led by Fotis Kouvelis, and Evangelos Venizelos' Socialist PASOK. Some Democratic Left MPs expressed their concern to Kouvelis during a meeting of their parliamentary group on Wednesday. One deputy, Yiannis Micheloyiannakis, refused to attend the meeting, saying the government had already strayed too far from its post-election agreement. (ANSAMed).

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