Greek Parliament Workers Escape Austerity

parliamentGreek Parliament workers will be exempted from further austerity measures the government has imposed on workers, pensioners and the poor after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras backed off on his promise to include them.

The workers won the exemption last month after threatening to walk off the floor during a Parliamentary debate on a $17.45 billion spending cut and tax hike plan, a strike that would have prevented a vote and jeopardized crucial aid from international lenders. That set Samaras to say he would go after them again.

While continuing to enjoy special privileges for limited work, including higher pay than most civil servants, and bonuses, they said they will be watchful of any attempt by the government to include them in pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions.

Despite their protected status, the Parliament workers refused to work on Dec. 12 and threatened to stay off the job to block prospective legislation that would reduce their pay and benefits. Some 511 of the workers who belong to the ruling New Democracy Conservative party headed by Samaras objected to any idea of further cuts.

The government reassured them, despite Samaras’ declaration they would have to share in the sacrifice hitting most Greeks except for politicians, the rich and tax evaders, that they too would be further insulated from the country’s crushing economic crisis after their pay had previously been cut in line with across-the-board austerity.

The clerks said they feared the government would cut their pay 25 percent more to go along with similar cuts in the rest of society, and that they would lose traveling expenses and reduce overtime pay from 71 hours a month to 50 although the Parliament ordinarily keeps short hours.

Combined, they said that would cut their pay by 400-600 euros ($522-$784) extra pay that by itself is nearly double the reduced pensions of many Greek elderly. They stressed that since 2011 they have been included in a unified payroll plan that in the last two years saw their pay cut 52 percent.

(Source: OnAir24)