Greek protesting municipal workers disrupt Greek-German forum at ThessalonikiSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 16/11/2012 4:08 am in World / 1 comment
ATHENS, Nov. 15 — Greek municipal workers, angry at a German official’s comments questioning their productivity, disrupted a Greek-German forum in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Thursday.
Unionists and municipal employees rallied during a meeting of Greek and German mayors in the city and scuffled with police forces outside the conference hall, Greek national news agency AMNA and local media reported.
The development came after German Deputy Labor Minister Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, who is German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s special envoy to Greece, said on Wednesday that it took 3,000 Greek municipal workers to do the work of 1,000 German municipal employees, and suggested to reduce the numbers of municipal personnel in debt-laden Greece.
“Mr. Fuchtel and his team have no right to suggest layoffs of workers and spending cuts in local administration, shifting the burden of the crisis on the shoulders of people suffering,” said a statement from the union of municipal staff POE-OTA.
“There are employees in municipalities who work harder than anybody,” City of Athens Mayor Yorgos Kaminis commented.
The tension came as Greek local administration workers launched a nationwide mobilization this week with sit-in protests at city halls and strikes in protest of the Greek government’s decision to implement a labor reserve scheme in order to shrink the public sector and slash deficits.
Municipalities and other public services across Greece were asked this week to draft by next week lists of names of employees so that at least 2,000 will be made redundant this year. Unions have warned that they would block the scheme.
According to the Greek Administrative Reform Ministry, selected employees of bloated organizations will be put on 75 percent of their salaries for a year before they will be made redundant. The target is the dismissal of approximately 25,000 employees by 2014.