Ministers in Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ new, revamped Cabinet, formed to bring more cohesion to government policies, are battling with each other – and him – over austerity measures.
Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, had to step in between new Education Minister Andreas Loverdos, who had just returned to the PASOK Socialists who are partners in his coalition, and one of his own party’s appointees, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos to settle a dispute over how many fired university staff workers would be rehired.
That resulted in a compromise but Loverdos, who left PASOK after refusing to further support pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings he had gone along with, is now barking that he’s uneasy with austerity again.
Loverdos said he’s uncomfortable enforcing a budget he voted against – but he’s doing it anyway, all the while squawking about it, iring some of his colleagues.
The newspaper Kathimerini said it was told by sources it didn’t identify that the squabbling had grown between the rival party ministers.
New Health Minister and New Democracy member Makis Voridis, wants a guaranteed minimum profit for pharmacists although Samaras has committed to ending the monopoly they hold.
Alternate Agriculture Minister Paris Koukoulopoulos – from PASOK – has reportedly said that plans for the part-privatization of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) could be renegotiated and Transport Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis – from PASOK – who kept his job in the reshuffle, said public sector layoffs with “horizontal measures,” that his party is now reluctant to impose.
Government spokesperson Sofia Voultepsi stated outright that, “There is no way reforms will be dismantled.” However, she noted that individual ministers had the right to propose minor amendments. “They will not be major changes and will not affect the prior actions,” she said.
Meanwhile Interior Minister Argyris Dinopoulos – from New Democracy – and who was just appointed, said he’s also unhappy with some of Samaras’ policies against workers.
Dinopoulos reached out to local authority employees protesting a so-called “mobility scheme” in which they will be laid off and could be fired, saying their concern “is not unjustified.”
Meanwhile, Samaras’ compromise over the university staff – reached along with PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos – to bring back 500 of the 1,134 who had been let go instead of the 880 that Loverdos wanted, isn’t flying with the workers.
They are planning new strikes, similar to the long walk-off the job they took last year, demanding that everyone be hired, contending there isn’t a single redundant worker, although the country’s lenders wanted job losses and the government said there was a lot of deadwood in the colleges.
A statement issued by the senate of Athens University described the move as “very displeasing and a total reversal of everything that has been discussed and agreed over the past six months with the government,” referring to the former Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos, who was more conciliatory to them and lost his job for it.
It condemned “the government’s inconceivable wavering,” adding that the university needed all of its staff back to function properly.