ATHENS – Nearly three years after a previous Greek government passed a unified pay structure for public workers, it hasn’t been implemented and wide variances remain, with some workers who didn’t finish high school being paid more than college graduates.
The uniform pay scale was a condition of rescue loans from the country’s international lenders and was introduced in October 2011 as a way of eliminating inequalities in salaries such as cleaning ladies in Parliament earning more than three times as much as their counterparts in other public offices.
According to figures seen by Kathimerini, although civil servants’ wages have dropped since then, as much as 30 percent in some cases, there are still discrepancies, particularly between the wages paid to those working in the central administration and those in the wider public sector.
For instance, an employee at the Development Ministry who didn’t to go high school earns 1,848 euros gross a month, whereas a university graduate working for the Center for Research on Equality Matters earns 1,610.91 euros.
An employee at the Environment Ministry with a university degree earns a monthly wage of 2,033 euros whereas at the Center for Renewable Energy, which operates under the ministry’s auspices, a staff member with the same qualifications earns 2,540 euros.
The Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that is putting up 240 billion euros ($327 billion) in two bailouts recently asked the government to re-examine the civil service wage structure and to iron out the differences without increasing public expenditure.
That was one of the duties charged to Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who also promised a review of workers before they were to be laid off or fired but hasn’t done that either. No government has ever explained why workers with the same job descriptions are paid differently.
Wide disparities remain in pay in the public sector, especially for state enterprises, where some workers enjoy vastly higher salaries even if they aren’t qualified for the positions, which often are political appointments.
In defiance of European Union law, Greece also refuses to recognize diplomas from private universities as criteria for public employment which means a high school dropout in Greece can be hired for a level-entry position but a Greek who was graduated from an Ivy League school in the United States can’t.