by Stelios Bouras and Nektaria Stamouli
Wall Street Journal
July 10, 2013
Greek municipal workers staged sit-in protests at town halls Wednesday and the country's two largest labor unions announced a general strike for next week, as opposition mounted to a wave of public-sector layoffs Athens has promised its international creditors.
In what will be the first test of the country's recently weakened, two-party coalition government, Parliament will vote within the next 10 days on legislation to place some 25,000 public servants—including many city employees—in a special labor reserve that many fear will lead to outright sackings.
Under pressure from euro-zone peers and the International Monetary Fund, which pay for Greece's €173 billion ($221.11 billion) rescue package, the government submitted to Parliament a bill late Tuesday that cuts the size of the public sector and implements a series of other pledges the country has made to secure financing through the summer.
The bill represents the first time in roughly a century that Greece has taken active steps to reduce the size of its public-sector workforce. But just last month, junior coalition partner Democratic Left withdrew from the government—sharply reducing the coalition's majority in Parliament—in a dispute over the shutdown of Greece's state broadcaster and the ouster of its 2,700 employees.