Greek Ministers Ignore Firing Orders

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ insistence that his ministers speed the pace of identifying workers who will be transferred, suspended or fired on the orders of international lenders has fallen on deaf ears as most of them have failed to comply, only three weeks before the deadline by which the government must complete 4,000 layoffs from the public service.

So far, only 2500-3000 workers have been picked to be laid off or let go. The Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) is demanding the public workforce be pared before releasing a delayed one billion euro ($1.37 billion) installment.

The foot-dragging comes as the Troika has also said the government must start working on another list, for 2014, to dismiss another 11,000 people, which the government has been reluctant to do, jeopardizing commitments necessary to receive what’s left of a second bailout of $173 billion that runs out next year. A first for $152 billion was expended without making a dent in the country’s staggering debt.

Except for the ministries of Transport and Culture, others that are required to present lists of candidates for dismissal from the state bodies being evaluated have failed to comply, the newspaper Kathimerini said it was told, despite a recent demand from Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to get cracking.

The ministries are also said to be delaying placing a certain number of employees in a so-called mobility scheme that will see them receiving 75 percent of their salaries for a period of eight months during which they will undergo an evaluation. The evaluation will then determine whether they will be let go or transferred to other departments in the public administration. The 11,000 dismissals theTroika wants will come from that.

Speaking in Parliament before debate on the 2014 budget, Mitsotakis said Greece would still meet the 2013 goal and said that state bodies and ministries which have surplus staff and cannot justify their budgets would be obliged to fire employees. “They will have to go,” he said.