ATHENS – A panel of judges is reviewing why Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ coalition government is ignoring court orders to restore austerity-slashed pay and benefits, especially for members of the military, police and other emergency services personnel.
The judiciary group is from the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, which directed the government to bring back the pay that was cut in 2012, as well as to rehire fired Finance Ministry cleaning ladies and restore slashed lump sums for pensioners.
Samaras refused to obey although he promised during a speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair that he would at least restore the pay of the uniformed officers – a key group for his New Democracy Conservatives – as well as giving them back all the money that had been cut from their salaries.
Kathimerini reported that the court will use a law passed in 2002 but never implemented. The legislation states that the state can be fined if it fails to adopt court rulings.
A special committee has already been formed at the Council of State, to examine the possibility of financial penalties for the Finance Ministry although it wasn’t known that if that is ordered whether Samaras will ignore that as well and the government will refuse to pay – and who would get the money.
The coalition has so far been reluctant to restore the civil servants’ wages because doing so would cost it around 500 million euros. Instead, the ministry has sought to buy some time while it finds ways to make the equivalent savings needed so fiscal targets are not missed.
“We cannot restore wages to 2012 levels in one go,” said Samaras, citing budget concerns. But he promised that there would be “significant” increases to the wages of members of the emergency services and armed forces very soon.