Trade unions protest at moves to send 3,500 public-sector staff to 'labour reserve'

A coordinating body for trade unions in state organisations facing merger, abolition or large-scale lay-offs of staff as part of a government plan to 'downsize' the state sector on Tuesday announced that they would mobilise in protest against the measures. Participating unions include POSPERT, representing staff in the state broadcasting company and at least seven others.
In a circular sent out on Monday, the government announced that at least 3,500 employees from some 151 public utilities and state enterprises will enter a 'labour reserve' pool, in which they will no longer work and will receive a reduced level of pay that is just over the amount paid in unemployment benefit.
After one year, if no position has been found for those in the reserve pool in the public sector, they will be made redundant.

The coordinating body called on all public-sector staff to actively participate in a mobilisation on Wednesday at the finance ministry, as well as its next meeting on Thursday.
The circular activating the extension of the labour reserve measure was sent to 151 wider public-sector organisations, asking them to prepare a list of their excess staff, which must be at least 10 percent of the total, by September 26. The list is supposed to give preference to those who already have the right to retire, those that are at or already past the age of retirement and those with fewer qualifications.
Next on the list will be those employed for lower-level supporting work, such as clerks and secretaries and receptionists.

For organisations with more than 100 employees, there will follow a second phase in which all the staff will be assessed with the help of a team of external consultants hired by each company and supervised by the ASEP council for recruiting public-sector staff.

These outside consultants must be hired within the month and submit their conclusions in two months, based on which additional staff will enter the labour reserve pool.
The measure on Tuesday came under strong criticism from the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the country's largest umbrella trade union organisation, which said that such actions were "dead-end policies that will even further enlarge the lists of unemployed and the gap in social cohesion".
"The government, instead of taking measures that 'open' the window to lay-offs, should work to reorganise services and organisations in order to productively exploit all workers in the organisations and bodies of the broader public sector," it said.

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