Officials from the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the IMF are due in Athens next week to assess Greece’s fiscal adjustment. The so-called troika will have to advise the EU and the IMF before anymore funding can be released. Should this be more than 130 billion euros, the pressure on Greece to meet its targets will be even greater. One of the issues that the troika team is likely to raise is wage costs. The government is under pressure to broker a deal between labor unions and employers that would see the minimum wage of 751 euros gross reduced and the 13th and 14th monthly salaries reduced and incorporated into the other 12 payments.
Employers and unionists, who are due to meet for talks this week, have balked at these demands and have suggested reductions in social security contributions as a possible alternative. Yiannis Panagopoulos, the head of Greece’s private sector umbrella union, warned the government Wednesday not to attempt to bypass negotiations by drawing up a law scrapping the national collective contract, which is due to expire in June this year. He said this would be an “extreme act.” Politicians were left embarrassed Wednesday by figures which showed that parties were receiving greater funding at a time when voters are being asked for greater sacrifices.
According to figures released by the Interior Ministry in response to a question from Democratic Alliance MP Lefteris Avgenakis, state funding for political parties increased by 5.2 million euros last year. The parties received 54 million euros last year compared to 48.8 million in 2010.