The Council of State, Greece’s highest court, ruled on Friday that the austerity cuts imposed on the country’s civil servants during the years of the financial crisis were legal. The ruling became public on Monday afternoon.
The decision is limited to the elimination of Christmas, Easter and Summer bonuses, or as they are known in Greece, the ”Thirteenth and fourteenth salaries.”
Up until 2012, Greek civil servants received a full month’s salary as a Christmas bonus in December, half their salary again on Easter and half a salary again in the summer, amounts that were equal to two additional monthly salaries annually.
The bonuses were cut in 2012, which triggered a series of long-lasting judicial efforts by trade unions and individuals, with the lower courts ruling that the cuts were unconstitutional.
Their rulings were based on the grounds of equality, as private sector employees in Greece never saw their “Thirteenth and fourteenth salary” eliminated at all.
However, the plenary of the Council of State decided that these cuts are indeed legal and not unconstitutional, putting an end to hopes of hundreds of thousands of employees who believed that they could recoup their bonuses.
There have been no official statements on the decision as of yet, but media reports suggest that the decision ruled that both the cuts were legal and that civil servants are not entitled to retroactive payments. This would undoubtedly put a huge burden on Greece’s state budget.