ATHENS – The heads of Greece’s largest universities said their staff should be spared staff firings being implemented by the government in the public sector on demand of international lenders.
The rectors, in a joint appearance before reporters, said their schools should be exempted from the so-called mobility scheme in which workers are put in a laid-off limbo at reduced pay for eight months and then fired if another position can’t be found for them. The government has already given a break to Parliament workers, including not cutting their pay further, after they threatened to strike and shut down legislation.
The rectors said the austerity measures that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras imposed on orders of the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that put up 240 billion euros ($306 billion) in two bailouts were affecting the schools ability to operate although they are often shut by strikes and student protests.
Their plea came as administrative staff at Greek universities launched a two-day strike on Dec. 17 to protest forced transfers and layoffs. They gave twin press conferences – in Athens and in Thessaloniki.
They appealed to Education Minister Andreas Loverdos and Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to revoke the scheme and protect their staffs while other public servants would still be fired. It wasn’t said if that would set a precedent and if all workers would make the same appeal to be protected.
The rector of the Athens University of Economics and Business, Constantinos Gatsios, said that if measures are not taken without delay, “Greek universities will close due to a lack of funding and staff.” He added: “The state must acknowledge, in a clear and honest way, the mistake that it has made and correct it.” Greek colleges aren’t listed in the World’s Top 400.
The universities have lost some 1,100 staff due to the mobility scheme while funding has been slashed by more than 40 percent since 2010. Thousands of student transfers from provincial universities to the big institutions in the cities has aggravated the problem.