Greek Parliament Passes New Bill to Terminate Civil Servants Amidst Protests

The lawmakers of Greece approved a new bill that would result in about 15,000 public sector employees losing their jobs by the end of 2014. This legislation will also enable the Greek government to fire its civil servants on disciplinary reasons and extend a property tax widely unpopular with the Greek citizens. The new law would also help the government in opening up several professions like accountants and bakers.

Legislation Related to Bailout Program of European Union

This latest law ends the constitutional guarantee that the government employees have been enjoying all these years that they could serve without any possibility of termination during their lifetime until they reach the age of retirement. Further, other government workers like teachers will also be required to work longer hours according to this new law. The European Union had insisted on the passing of such legislation by the Greek government before May 5, 2013 to release more than eight billion euros, the rescue loans to be organised and granted by European Union to that country. Greece expects to receive around 8.8 billion euros from a consortium consisting of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Protests by Greek Civil Servants

However, critics of this legislation are of the opinion that this law will only add to the present unemployment rate of more than 27% of Greece. Further, the Civil Servants Union of Greece, ADEDY is strongly protesting against this law from the time when the European Union imposed such a condition on the Greece government for bailing the country of its deep financial crisis. The president of the Confederation of Civil Servants trade union, Kostas Tsikrikas, stated that all workers should raise their voice to oppose the present policies of not only the Greek government but similar policies in entire Europe. He wanted a coordinated effort by all the government works spread across the member states of the European Union to overturn and counter such anti-employee policies.

Protesters demonstrated against the new bill outside the parliament building of Greece, when the lawmakers were passing the new legislation. The protests by public sector workers belonging to Athens Thessaloniki have been continuing in Athens against this law aimed at strong austerity measures, including ad hoc firing of the civil servants. Christina Angeloniki, a local teacher complained that they were against this brutal law that empowers government not only to fire its servants on flimsy reasons but also against the increase in their working hours. She pointed out that this law will only result in more losses in the employment sector. Further, this law will benefit neither the teachers nor the education system. She insisted that this will affect the children even more than anyone else if teachers and students have to work longer hours.

Record Unemployment Rate in Greece, France and Spain

Contract workers working in the public sector have petitioned the courts to keep their jobs and have been successful so far in their efforts. However, the new law may not protect around 15,000 civil servants who are likely to lose their jobs in the next two years. Kostas Tsikrikas pointed out that this problem was not limited to Greece alone, since unemployment levels have surpassed all historical precedents not only in Greece but the entire Europe. He stated that there were more than 21 million persons remaining unemployed in Europe. He further mentioned that around a quarter of the population of Europe has been living in total poverty. His statement was supported by the release of recent unemployment data from France and Spain. The jobless total of France was 3.22 million, an all-time high after series of industrial layoffs according to data released on April 25, 2013. Spain also reported a record unemployment rate of 27.2% on the same day, with around six million people remaining jobless in Spain. This unemployment rate of Spain is the same as that of Greece. There appears to be no immediate solution to the pitiable state of several countries in the European Union.