Despite waves of building protests and a general strike of public and private workers set for July 16 – the day Parliament votes on a reform package to sack 15,000 state workers and put another 25,000 in line to be next – Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said he’s confident it will pass and that he has the backing of Greeks fed up with the inefficiency of a bloated public sector.
He didn’t mention it was made that way by 40 years of his New Democracy Conservatives and the PASOK Socialists packing public payrolls in return for votes.
The government’s first target in the plan to meet the demands of international lenders is the lower-paid sector: school crossing guards, janitors, teachers and municipal police, while Parliament workers and highly-paid managers will keep their jobs.
New Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said there’s little sympathy for public workers after three years of government-imposed austerity measures have created a record 26.9 percent unemployment rate – all in the private sector. Greek public workers are notorious for sitting around and doing virtually nothing.
“There’s a silent majority out there of people who are hoping a true reform in the administration will actually take place,” Administration Reform and E-Governance Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Ryan Chilcote in Athens. “It is those people who have actually stomached the entire adjustment. We have 1.3 million unemployed people from the private sector.”
Samaras’s revamped coalition government that includes PASOK faces its first test in parliament next week when lawmakers vote on the job-cuts plan and other reforms to unlock bailout funds. Employees targeted under the plans have picketed public buildings and held protests around the country over the past week while unions have called a 24-hour walkout on July 16.
“Like all votes, it’s not going to be an easy vote, but I do anticipate that we will have no problems passing this piece of legislation,” Mitsotakis said. “The government has a smaller majority now, but it’s much more homogeneous than it was in the past.”