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Greek mayors threaten with mass resignations over workers lay-offs, while municipalities stink

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 8:26
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Municipality workers are on strike again on  second consequently day. Thousands of angry workers and municipality policemen marched in downtown Athens again on Tuesday to protest the upcoming mass lay-offs in the Greek public sector. Samaras’ government has no other choice but to finally proceed to the much-needed and much-demanded, Troika enforced “structural reforms” in order to trim down the public sector and cut spending.

However it’s not only the municipalities personnel opposing the dismissals. Also mayors express their clear opposition especially when it comes to Samaras’ plans to abolish the municipality police and the network of security guards in schools.

Yiannis Boutaris, the mayor of Greece’s second big city Thessaloniki, a prominent activist and winemaker, even threatened to ‘hand out the keys of the city”, while a court could appoint another mayor.

Boutaris stressed that Thessaloniki municipality services cannot operate with 1,1000 people less – form the 4,000 working at Thessaloniki Municipality.

Boutaris criticized that the administrative reform and the interior ministers in charge of the lay-offs take the decisions without previous consultation with the Confederation of Greece’s Municipalities (KEDE). He revealed that many mayors could submit their resignation if the government continues as planned.

K.O. against the unionists

While municipalities are boiling, the row has been transferred to the Greek Parliament with Nea Dimocratia lawmakers attacking municipalities unionists.

Often below the belt as my famous cat even know how the unionism and the favoritism worked hand in hand for many decades and it affected ALL parties – whether in government or not.

MP Fotini Pipili accused the president of Municipality Union POE-OTA, Balasopoulos hat his career had the solid ground of “favoritism”.

“He started to work as cleaner in 1984, he was a close friend of then mayor of Glyfada, he became responsible of the municipality magazine and slowly he climbed all the levels of PASKE [municipality union affiliated with PASOK],” Pipili claimed and added “I demand respect and the dismissal of Mr. Balasopoulos as despicable example of  favoritism and nepotism, that is all those [characteristics] that destroyed the local governments. ”

Fotini was twice elected in the city council of Athens.

As if this is the only case of ‘close friends’ or ‘party members’ who made – and still make – a career in Greece’s municipalities, securing full wage and but also benefits under the hand. Pipili has just to ask around a bit.

She will be surprised to see how many people started as garbage workers – the easy way to get a job at a municipality – and made a real career and became powerful people in local communities because “they had the means and the right connections.”

I know of cases, that when the time came they retire, they pushed their children to a similar career in the municipality they run as if it was their own little shop. All this has been happening with the tolerance and acceptance of all political parties.

When cleaners …stink

Start as municipality worker: you get a time contract of 8 months that is normally extended again. And again. You can work for many years as a ‘temporary worker’. At the end you get a normal position at the municipality services and you can make a career if you are cooperative, turn a blind eye where you ought to and can secure votes in local elections.  Which is rather easy, as you can be influential in your close and broader neighborhood. Of course, this practice ended in that form with the IMF in 2010.

But even in times of austerity, favoritism continued non-stop. Some municipalities hired -in 2010 or 2011 I think – “cleaners” with 8-month temporary contracts and 800 euro per month. The contracts were not supposed to be extended due to austerity and because other unemployed Greeks were standing in queues for a paid job. But the contracts were indeed extended with the justification that all these people were “excellent cleaners” and therefore they deserved to have their work contracts extended.

PS If you want to do, do it right!


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