ATHENS – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ decision to exclude the hiring of artists in the public sector from a Presidential decree is a play to gain support from them ahead of the coming elections, the major rival SYRIZA said.
The party, now re-branded from the Radical Left to the Progressive Alliance after being routed in July, 2019 snap polls, said Mitsotakis’ decision “takes back the Presidential decree on artists, thus giving away his pre-electoral panic,” reported the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency AMNA.
That was about the downgrading of the degrees of art schools and the working rights of artists which drew a massive backlash from them and protests in Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities.
There were demonstrations by students and teachers of the schools as well as dancers, actors and others in front of the Education Ministry that featured them singing, dancing and showing off banners in protest.
“Mitsotakis – with his ideological obsessions and his incompetence – has turned the country’s artistic world upside-down. With a Presidential Decree, with which he disgracefully degraded the degrees of artists of all disciplines, put the Greek President President in a difficult position and provoked mobilizations,” added the SYRIZA statement.
“Then followed the dynamic warning of the National Theatre’s drama school teachers, that they were ready to resign if the government persisted in its position. Mr. Mitsotakis, after first humiliating the ministers themselves, who appeared at his command unyielding in the nonsense they signed, today comes to take it all back in view of the elections. The opinions of Mr. Mitsotakis towards people in the Arts is well known. For three-and-a-half years he has done nothing but degrade them and wear them down,” it said.
The President of the National Union of Musicians Vasilis Paraskevopoulos earlier said that, “An education that must be public, that must lead to a university degree and that gives full employment rights,” said the World Federation of Trade Unions.
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“We have faced a series of governments over the years that have attacked this right. A right that is truly denied to thousands of working-class families, children with talent who cannot afford to pay a load of money to study. We must continue. We have to push them. We have to scare them with our mobilizations and win what we are entitled to,” he added.
Greece will have public, university-level studies in the performing arts by 2025, Mitsotakis announced ion social media after he said elections are coming in the spring, with reports that April is the likely target.
In a post on Facebook, he said that the decree does not regulate or change the way artists are employed or paid in the public sector for artistic or educational work in addressing the critics.
The decree from President Katerina Sakellaropoulou sparked reactions from actors’ and artists’ unions, who complained it classified the educational qualifications of all artists as non-university level.
Mitsotakis said his New Democracy government will change that, “So that there is no doubt that the government’s intentions are to support and upgrade – not to degrade the sector.”
“For this reason, we are immediately proceeding with another move, clarifying the salary landscape for artists so that it is clear to everyone that they are exempt from the system of public-sector hiring via the Supreme Council for Staff Selection (ASEP), and are paid in another way,” he said.
“In order to correct failures and mistakes that have been observed over time in local authorities, we are legislatively extending to municipalities the obligation to use a special payroll – and not the uniform payroll, so that our artists are hired and paid in a fair way that recognizes the particularities of the nature of the artistic profession,” he said, added AMNA.