During Fires Tragedy, SYRIZA Pulls Back Plan for Big Pay Raises

FILE - Prime minister Alexis Tsipras addressing his Cabinet ministers. (Photo by PM's Press Office/Andrea Bonetti via Eurokinissi)

ATHENS – With Greek workers locked into a tight pay structure and pensioners taking big reductions, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ plan to give huge hikes for top managers at state institutions was pulled back after being submitted during the tragedy of deadly wildfires.

The amendment filed would have lifted a pay ceiling for presidents, CEOs and managing directors of various state-owned entities – and their subsidiaries –past the limit of 4,631 euros ($5,406) monthly, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki.

The draft amendment also included state-owned and managed utilities whose shares have been transferred to a so-called “super fund”, a holding company for Greek state assets, required by the country’s international creditors to be set up.

That would affect institutions with more than 3,000 workers or a turnover of more than 100 million euros a year.

In an apparent attempt to cover her government, Deputy Economy Minister Katerina Papanatsiou referred to a “problem in the wording” of the draft legislation, which was written by her ministry.

The timing of the scheme – filed when at least 88 people died in the fires – caused a furor of criticism at the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition over the idea of lifting the salary cap for already highly-paid top executives at state enterprises while workers, pensioners and the poor are struggling during an eight-year economic and austerity crisis. Some pensioners are seeing cuts again of 1.5 euros

“At moment when Greeks are mourning their dead, the government attempted to raise the salaries of those it appointed… by as much as 2,850 euros ($3,327) per month. Withdrawal of the amendment, amid reactions by the opposition and press, is an admission of guilt,” a statement by main opposition New Democracy (ND) read.