Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
In a move that many are describing as a bid to lure voters, Interior Minister Panos Skourletis announced on Friday that the number of permanent municipal sanitation staff will be increased from 6,500 to 8,800. Speaking to state-run TV on Friday, Skourletis said the hirings – announced at a time of fiscal constraints – will meet “municipalities’ real needs.”
But critics said he is simply pandering to municipal workers’ unions and giving in to their every demand.
According to information gleaned so far, Kathimerini understands that Greece’s lenders have said that they have no objectives to the hirings.
The move will not burden the budget as wages of sanitation staff at local authorities are covered by municipal levies paid by citizens.
However, many local authorities have said that they do not have the necessary funds to make the hirings and this could possibly force them to increase municipal levies.
Skourletis sought to clarify that contract workers currently working at municipal cleaning service are not necessarily the ones who will be hired, as all qualified people will be considered for the positions, he said.
The estimated 10,000 contract workers currently employed in municipalities’ sanitation departments will remain at their posts until March 31, 2018 at the latest, when their contracts expire.
Earlier in the year, Skourletis had sought to extend those contracts beyond their initial 24-month limit but was forced to back down after the Council of State ruled it would violate the Constitution and European Union law.
Skourletis’s eagerness to please unions was also apparent in his decision earlier this year to oversee collective labor agreements for employees working at local government organizations (OTA), which stipulated fewer working hours and more holiday leave and paved the way for more hirings down the line.
Moreover, after last Wednesday’s 24-hour strike called by the municipal workers’ union (POE-OTA) he promised more such “interventions.” Workers’ rights and the needs of local authorities are the two main issues that the Interior Ministry is focused on, he said
Greece turns corner
following debt crisis
A report by Amy Kellogg for Fox News says “Greece turns corner following debt crisis”,
“It’s not all that rosy in Greece, but tourism has experienced a real boost this year.
“2017 was the year that left the crisis behind,” said Athens tour operator Dikeos Kalavrydinos. “This year, things around Athens and Greece generally are getting better day by day.”
Tourism was up 7 percent in 2017, and has been doubling the industry average for growth in recent years. That is good news in this vital sector of Greece’s economy. One in five jobs created in Greece is in the tourism sector. Some estimates are every 30 tourists create a new job for a Greek.
Kalavrydinos calls Athens one of the safest cities in the world. And he said it boasts the best service. Terrorist attacks in other European cities have put tourists off. Turkey, which is a competitor market, has also had its share of unrest, making Greece more appealing. There are no more of the massive street protests we saw throughout the crisis.
President of the Hoteliers of Athens, Alexandros Vassilikos told Fox News, “The unrest is not here anymore. We see clients don’t worry anymore. That was a big issue for us until 2015.”
Many in the industry though complain that higher taxes imposed since Greece’s bailouts and more aggressive collection have taken a bite out of ultimate profits, but still, the sector is moving forward.
Economic experts point to other positive signs. Greece was finally able to borrow in international markets over the summer. Bond yields were down. And structural reforms have led to less state involvement in a wide range of industries, making many businesses more open and competitive.
There was growth for the first time in 2017, albeit low.
But with debt still 180 percent of GDP, there is a long way to go. Unemployment is down, but still one in five are out a job. Nearly half of young people are unemployed. And there has been significant brain drain.
But Alexandros Vassilikos says Greeks need to look for opportunity in the challenges still present.
“We cannot look at things negatively. We must look at things creatively. If you do not find a job today the way you did five or ten years ago, that means you need to change the way you are looking as well.”
He says jobs for young people need to be found through new ideas, projects and products.
Greece’s near economic collapse, many say, was the first really dire challenge the European Union faced. Since then, Brexit and Catalonia may have eclipsed that and stolen the headlines. But Luiss University Professor Nicola Borri says it’s good the Greeks didn’t go for “Grexit.”
“Greece within Europe has a bright future. It was smart of them not to exit Europe in 2015. This is in the long run will help Greece. Greece was able to go back and borrow on international markets because it is part of the Eurozone.”