Greece Seeks 2,000 Volunteer Transfers

ATHENS – The government has denied it will force 3,000 public workers to move to other positions to meet demands of international lenders but said it will seek 2,000 volunteers to transfer.

Interior Minister Argyris Dinopoulos, speaking on SKAI radio, said there wasn’t a scheme to satisfy the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).

“I have not read the report but there are no such plans because there is a voluntary program,” said the minister. “If a problem arises then we will take action.”

The deadline for municipal employees to register for a transfer as part of the voluntary scheme is August 29, while Greece has to meet its mobility targets by the end of September.

Troika officials are due back in Athens in mid-September to begin the fifth review of the Greek adjustment program.

“The scheme for inter-municipal transfers is ongoing so it would be wrong to make any assessment at this stage,” an Interior Ministry source said. “There is time to take other measures if the target is not met.”

There have been 1,000 voluntary transfers so far, meaning the government needs another 2,000 volunteers from the municipalities to meet its target.

But the union that represents local authority workers, POE-OTA, remains opposed to the mobility scheme and urged its members not to take part,  leading to the deadline for them to show interest being extended three times.

Workers aren’t buying assurances from the government that participation in the scheme would not lead to wage cuts or job losses.

Other parts of the scheme have seen workers paid 75 percent of their already-reduced wages under austerity and then fired in eight months if no other position is found for them.