Athens promised its creditors this week to dismiss 4,000 civil servants this year, including 2,000 by the end of the summer and 15,000 by the end of 2014.
That may not sound daunting in a public work force of around 650,000. Yet, through more than three years of drastic budget cuts and a rapidly shrinking economy, the debt-ridden country has yet to fire a single government employee.
To understand what the government is up against, consider the case of Georgia Tsiounis and more than 10,000 other “temporary” workers. Eight years after landing a four-month contract with the municipality of Athens to water flowers and trim trees while other workers were on vacation, she was told recently that her services would be eliminated after her latest contract ends.
Rather than meekly accepting her fate, she turned to the well-worn tactic of filing a restraining order seeking to make the job permanent.
While she may well lose in court, legal analysts say, she cannot be fired while the case is pending. Given the glacial pace of Greece’s overburdened and inefficient court system, her case and thousands more like it will not be heard for nearly two years.</blockquote>
I’m glad I don’t live in Greece.