Fri, Jul 19, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Greece austerity push to cost thousands more jobs

AFP, ATHENS

Greek deputies narrowly approved another wave of layoffs and wage cuts affecting thousands of public sector workers yesterday, hours ahead of a rare visit to the country by the German finance minister. The sweeping bill of reforms, tied to the country’s next tranche of EU-IMF loans, was passed despite days of street protests.

It gives thousands of civil servants — including teachers and municipal police — eight months on reduced salaries to find new posts elsewhere, or accept those offered to them. Otherwise, they will lose their jobs.

Hundreds of protesters had gathered outside parliament for the late-night vote, a day after thousands had demonstrated in a general strike called against the reform.

The coalition government’s majority carried most of the tougher articles by a vote of 153 to 140, the parliament speaker said.

It was a close call for the coalition, which has a five-seat majority in the chamber.

Two government deputies did not attend the vote and a third had to be brought out of hospital to cast his ballot, reports said.

The bill’s approval will enable Greece to receive its next installment of 6.8 billion euros (US$8.9 billion) in rescue funds cleared by eurozone finance ministers.

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