After hirings, minister wants to boost contract workers’ rights

17 January 2017
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A day after heralding 10,000 new permanent hirings to the Greek civil service, Minister of State Christos Vernardakis declared the government’s intention to boost the rights of contract workers in the public sector to the same level as permanent employees.

Invoking a ruling by the European Court last year, Vernardakis said the leftist-led coalition aims to offer some 40,000 civil servants on short-term contracts the same rights in terms of wages and dismissal as full-time staff.

“A pivotal aspect [of the plan] is the restoration of collective wage bargaining,” Vernardakis said, referring to a key sticking point in stalled negotiations between Greek government officials and representatives of the country’s international creditors.

According to the government’s plan, the efficient implementation of a mobility scheme will allow contract workers to fill vacancies for permanent jobs. “We have a permanent job and we have an employee with a particular work contract who will simply assume this job,” Vernardakis said.

The minister admitted that the government’s intention is to hire staff to the public sector, particularly to state hospitals which suffer from woeful shortages.

“When you have a public sector that has lost around 400,000 people since 2010, all its departments are understaffed,” Vernardakis said. “Is there anyone who says there should be no hirings in the health sector?”

The minister also rebuffed claims by the political opposition according to which 27,000 employees were hired to Greece’s public sector last year.

In comments to Skai TV, conservative New Democracy’s vice president Adonis Georgiadis accused the government of populist tactics aimed at boosting its flagging fortunes, noting that any recruitments carried out now will simply be overturned by Greek courts at a later date as they will not have been appointed via competition.

“The orgy of hirings SYRIZA is carrying out right now is unprecedented,” he said. “They are doing it purely and simply to win the votes of those people who they are duping because, as soon as the courts sit, those people will lose those jobs, however many laws SYRIZA approves.”

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