Deputy Interior Minister George Dolios on Friday noted that the new wage scale for the civil service was not an attempt to reduce total payroll costs in the public sector, in statements to the local radio station Flash.

"If there is a reduction in payroll cost this will arise as a result of other initiatives, other reasons," he stressed, noting that the new wage scale will apply to both existing public-sector staff and newcomers.

He also underlined that the new afternoon opening hours for certain public-sector services would not be achieved by split shifts, nor by working for longer than eight hours, stressing that the ministry hoped that the civil servants' union federation ADEDY would itself take an initiative in this direction.

"It is not fair, it isn't right for workers in the public sector to work for fewer hours than those in the private sector. We will see which social groups cannot be served by the public sector during morning hours and based on the needs of these social groups we will choose certain peak services that will also work during afternoon hours in order to provide a better service," he explained.

According to the minister, this was envisaged happening within 2011 but not immediately.

An announcement issued by ADEDY on Friday, however, said the union would not accept any reduction in labour, salary and social insurance entitlements in the public sector, stressing that measures such as a generalised increase in work hours in the public sector would not solve any of the problems but merely hoped to make an impression on the public.

It also ruled out participation in dialogue on the new wage scale unless the government first agreed to accept its positions for restoring paycuts through abolition of the 13th and 14th wages or the minimum wage proposed by ADEDY.

With respect to changes in work times, ADEDY said that it would only discuss those for services concerning the interior ministry itself and only if they did not involve split shifts, higher number of work hours and fewer jobs or changes in the way work hours were used.