ATHENS – Just as Greece’s international creditors said the country’s spending would no longer face scrutiny as part of receiving three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($373.27 billion), they are going to take a look at a government plan to offer permanent jobs to garbage collectors and pay hikes for some municipal officials.
Thousands of workers have been fired or let get since a crushing economic crisis began in 2010 but the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition, which promised to stop patronage, has been hiring thousands of supporters and said it would offer the garbage collectors a transition from short-term contracts to permanent, lifetime jobs after the workers held a two-week strike.
That is in contradiction to an earlier court ruling and the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) now will review whether the hirings, as well as pay hikes for some municipal officials at the same time pay and pensions are being slashed across-the-board meets bailout conditions.
A European Commission official told the newspaper Kathimerini that Troika envoys will investigate SYRIZA’s move, which could also include the hirings of thousands of other workers on short-term contracts to permanent positions which critics said was an attempt to buy votes with the party and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ popularity sinking like a stone after he reneged repeatedly on anti-austerity promises.
It’s unclear how the hirings and wage hikes would be paid for with budget cuts in most areas although the cost of keeping the garbage collectors on permanently could be financed with yet another add-on to electric bills which are used to assess costs for other causes as well.
Meanwhile, a ruling by the State Audit Council will allow the payment of months of unpaid wages to thousands of municipal sanitation workers on expired short-term contracts.
According to the ruling, the workers should be paid as, although they were not on contract during the first few months of this year, they fulfilled their duties. But the court also said their contracts can’t be extended, a ruling ignored by the government, a common practice.