The Greek Parliament, as expected, approved an amendment critical to implementing a so-called mobility scheme in which workers will be transferred or fired, but Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told two of his New Democracy Conservative deputies who bucked him they would be tossed from the party if they do it again.
In the past, Samaras has immediately ejected party members who disobey his orders on how to vote as in the Greek political system Members of Parliament are told what to do. But with his party and his coalition partner the PASOK Socialists together controlling only 155 of the 300 seats in Parliament, Samaras is dependent on every vote now.
The mobility scheme is a requirement for Greece to get the next scheduled loans of 8.1 billion euros ($10.46 billion) from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) as part of a second bailout of $173 billion. It will put 25,000 into a plan where they are paid 75 percent of their already-reduced wages for up to eight months and then fired if another position can’t be found for them. Another 15,000 will go in 2014.
Lawmakers passed the amendment, which was added to legislation on a new tax procedure code, in a vote televised live on state-run Vouli TV. The measure meets a requirement for Greece to issue all necessary legal acts to set up the mobility scheme as well as fire 4,200 others, mostly in lower-paid positions. Some 2,114 reportedly will be educators.
The amendment was the last condition Greece needed to meet to receive a payment of 2.5 billion euros ($3.31 billion endorsed by Eurozone finance ministers earlier this month as part of the next installment of 8.1 billion euros.
The legislation overrides a law passed last week that protects civil servants with postgraduate degrees and those with disabilities or other social needs from being forced into a labor reserve, although the government had also put 80 people into a protected pool and exempted them from the scheme, iring the Troika who wanted the decision reversed.
New Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who takes his orders from Samaras, said firings will be done on merit and not on the basis of political favoritism, although that’s how most of the country’s public workers were hired, hundreds of thousands of them by New Democracy and PASOK over the years, helping creating the financial crisis today.
Athens took the step after the Euro Working Group of technical analysts who advise Eurozone finance ministers found fault with the existing plans for the mobility scheme and said it was not convinced Greece would meet its target of transferring 4,200 workers immediately. Greece has missed virtually every target set by the Troika.
The disagreement over the labor pool means the Euro Working Group will reconvene on July 26 to approve the release of 2.5 billion euros from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and another 1.5 billion euros ($1.99 billion) in profits made on the purchase of Greek bonds by Eurozone central banks.
The process is not due to be completed until July 29, when a compliance report will be issued and national parliaments will also give their approval for the disbursement. Also that day, the IMF’s executive board is due to meet to decide on the transfer of its share of the latest bailout tranche, worth 1.8 billion euros, ($2.39 billion) to Greece.
Samaras was miffed that ND’s Nikitas Kaklamanis – a former Mayor of Athens – and Dimitris Kyriazidis only voted “present” during the ballot, reducing the government’s parliamentary majority. Parliament, which is out of session more than in, is in its summer schedule, which means only 100 lawmakers are present and the rest are on vacation until September, which brings the government’s majority down to just two.
That prompted Samaras to call ND’s Parliamentary group Secretary, Thanasis Bouras, after the vote and ask him to tell MPs that if in future they fail to support a bill relating to “prior actions” demanded by the Troika, they will be expelled from the party. He didn’t say what he would do if that meant he would lose a majority in Parliament.