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Uniformed insist on meeting with the Troika

30 August 2012 / 20:08:35  GRReporter
2523 reads

Victoria Mindova

Policemen, fire-fighters and coast guards in Greece insist on meeting with the heads of the supervisory Troika of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission. They oppose the new cuts of their departments’ funds and the reduction of wages provided in the new package of fiscal consolidation. Under the economic plan, uniformed employees in Greece will bear 6% cuts in wages in the next two years.

"The cuts in the budgets of civil protection services are too much already and hinder the proper performance of work. We have been working selflessly for a long time. We cannot bear further reductions," president of the Pan-Hellenic Federation of police officers Christos Fotopoulos said at a press conference on the problems of uniformed employees. Fotopoulos said the union would not accept the new cuts, especially if not discussed with the relevant ministry.

The government is considering options for reducing the salaries of the administrative staff in the civil protection services by a larger percentage than that of active employees. Fotopoulos stressed that uniformed officers cannot be divided into active and administrative. The trade unionist explained that many of the people "behind the desk" are former officers, who were at the forefront in the activities related to the protection of citizens and received injuries while actively performing their duties.

The head of the trade union of fire forces Ioannis Stamoulis said the state owes uniformed employees thousands of unpaid overtime accumulated in the past two years. At the same time, one of the first advices of the supervisory Troika was suspending overtime in the public sector because it burdened the budget with hundreds of millions of euro each year. "We are in the first line in some of the worst possible conditions," Stamoulis insisted. "Fire-fighters work 14 or 16 hours and no minister are interested in that." Consistent with his colleague, Christos Fotopoulos added that if politicians really want to show respect for the profession of uniformed employees they must vote against the new cut of wages.

After the press conference, union representatives of the police, fire service and coast guards requested a meeting with Minister of Finance Yiannis Stournaras. He did not receive them that day, but promises were made that he would accept the union of uniformed employees in a few days. Meanwhile, employees connected with the civil defence service (not the military) announced that they would hold a protest meeting in Syntagma Square at noon on Friday. The police said they would not take active strike actions and would not allow crime to flourish in Greece, but would fight with all legal means to protect their rights. At the same time, government sources said that the new conditions would apply to all sectors in the process of fiscal consolidation and reforms.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on his part that the upcoming austerity package would be the last one for the Greek economy. At a meeting of New Democracy to elect a new Secretary General of the party, he said that the country has started to change the climate in a positive direction and to slowly regain the credibility of its partners in Europe. This is a step in the right direction, but a lot of work and sacrifice are necessary before the country establishes a stable foundation. "We will put the end with the austerity package of 11.5 billion euro. This is our obligation. Many of these cuts are hard, heavy and painful but they are inevitable as well. Without them, the country will return to the starting position of a complete lack of credibility and it will have to exit the euro - a situation that is much more difficult than adopting the austerity measures and catastrophic for the whole country."

Samaras acknowledged that the new cuts of pensions and wages would be very difficult, but he would not be able to provide the necessary funds to keep the country within the euro area without them. He urged the citizens, who will once again see their salaries reduced for the sake of the country's European future, to understand the situation. "A large part of the next tranche will cover the domestic needs of the country," he said. He also explained that a large part of it would be also used to refinance banks and to repay state obligations to the private sector in order for the domestic economy to start functioning.

 

Tags: EconomyUniformedCutsGreeceCrisis
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