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Greek Workers Threaten Action Strikes, Papandreou’s Security Bill In

ATHENS – As the Greek government readied more pay cuts and tax hikes for the country’s beleaguered workers, middle-class, poor and pensioners, the main civil servants union ADEDY said it’s ready to strike back, angry over a scheme that would put thousands of its workers on a year-long layoff at 60% of their pay – only to face being fired later. ADEDY leaders condemned the plan to create a “labor reserve” pool of workers who face almost certain dismissal, a reversal of decades of deals between political leaders, unions and workers guaranteed lifetime jobs.

Deputy Premier Theodoros Pangalos wants a list of workers to decide who'll be fired

The union will meet on Sept. 16 to decide what form its protests will take, but previously it had led mass demonstrations. Union leaders issued a statement blasting the government of PASOK Socialist leader George Papandreou – a former ally – for seeking “to violate the Constitution and lead thousands of people into unemployment.”
In comments on state TV channel NET, Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis said the labor reserve scheme was not a roundabout way of carrying out mass sackings in the civil service. “We are not trying to put people on the road to dismissal,” he said, although that is being demanded by international lenders as a condition of getting continued loan installments as part of a $157 billion rescue package for the country, which otherwise can’t pay its bills and faces default.
Municipal workers were said to be especially upset by comments from Deputy Interior Minister Paris Koukoulopoulos indicating the likely dismissals in 15 of the country’s excessively indebted municipalities. Koukoulopoulos indicated that once the scope for staff transfers has been exhausted, the remaining surplus staff – some 15,000 people – would face redundancy. The Athens newspaper Kathimerini said the workers became even more agitated when the outspoken Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos sent a letter to 389 state bodies, including universities and hospitals, asking for a full list of their employees to be reviewed by a committee that is overseeing the merging and abolition of several state bodies as part of broader cutbacks to state spending. Some workers said they fear that politics will decide who gets fired and that those favored by the ruling party would be kept on.
All that came as the government said the cost of security to protect Papandreou at the Thessaloniki International Fair on Sept. 10 would be at least 2 million euros, or $2.75 million, or the salaries of about 183 school teachers for a year. The premier was in the city for a day and was guarded by 7,000 police officers, and equipment ranging from anti-riot vans to water cannons and gates and fences to keep people away from him.

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