ATHENS – Frantic to recover from a freefall in polls after reneging on anti-austerity promises, Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said the government-led coalition will hire put 10,000 workers on the payroll in 2019, an election year.
Tsipras said the position will be freed up by having the Greek Church pay 9,000 priests whose salaries come from state coffers even though the government will guarantee the wages with a back door subsidy that doesn’t save any money, adding that the new workers will replace those who leave through attrition.
The major opposition New Democracy and critics said Tsipras is openly trying to buy votes with his party far behind the Conservatives, the party the Leftists beat twice in 2015 to come to power. SYRIZA’s junior coalition partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) is polling at only about 1 percent, far below the 3 percent threshold needed to get back into Parliament as they slide into oblivion.
Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said having the Church technically pay the priests will “free up” space for another 10,000 public hirings. The Church hasn’t finalized the deal that will see opposition dropped to Tsipras’ plan for separation of Church and State.
Speaking on Alpha TV Thursday, Tsipras said that the government will secure that there is one hiring for every departure in the public sector.
“In 2019, we will have 8000 departures and an equal number of hirings through the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP), plus an additional 7,500 hirings for which we have the funding,” he said.
That’s at odds with the country’s international lenders, the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) and the Washington, D.C-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) that put up 326 billion euros ($370.3 billion) in three bailouts that came with harsh austerity measures, including the firing of thousands of workers.
The rescue packages ended on Aug. 20 with the government setting aside 22 billion euros ($24.99 billion) as a buffer to finance state operations through June, 2020 with foreign investors and the markets wary of lending money, fearful of what Tsipras is already doing, trying to wiggle out of austerity measures he agreed to impose after swearing he would reject them.