ATHENS – With Greece being squeezed by international lenders to get rid of more public workers, Education Minister Andreas Loverdos said university staff won’t be included.
Loverdos, recently appointed and rejoining the PASOK Socialists who are partners in the coalition government of Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras, defied orders to shed workers from universities said to be overstaffed with needless positions.
A number of Greek colleges went on strike for months last year to protest workers being put into so-called “mobility schemes” in which they would receive 75 percent of already reduced pay for up to eight months and then let go if another position couldn’t be found for them.
Loverdos, who said he’d refuse to fire anyone, said the colleges are understaffed and need more workers, although critics said it’s the other way around.
He said his assessment came after an evaluation he ordered of staff requirements in tertiary education and that none of the 1,050 people identified to be put into the mobility scheme will instead be exempted, as have Parliament workers who are also being protected against further austerity measures after threatening to strike.
The government advertised in June 600 new administrative positions at the country’s universities so many of those put in the labor reserve last year are likely to be rehired anyway even though the government also said they should be dismissed. However, Loverdos, who was appointed in June’s cabinet reshuffle, now suggests that they could all get their jobs back.
“The results of the study were only made available to me today,” he said. “I had said from the start that there needs to be an evaluation and that its results should determine whether there should be any sackings. There can be no other rule.
“Since the evaluation shows that there is no need for sackings, nobody will be sacked.”
The private study indicated that Greece’s eight state universities need 4,086 administrative staff against the 3,630 that are actually employed. It also underlines that the ratio of administrative staff to students in Greece is much lower than the European Union average.
If the college staff workers are protected, it means workers in other ministries or agencies will likely have to be let go in their place. Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, from New Democracy, is being bucked by PASOK over his plan to meet the demands of the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) which the Greek work force is wildly overstaffed.
New Democracy and PASOK contributed to the country’s crushing economic crisis by hiring hundreds of thousands of needless workers for decades in return for votes and now, while trying to cull the workforce, are also trying to exempt and protect some sectors.