Greece rejects IMF demand for extra layoffs: official

AFP, Tuesday 20 Nov 2012

The Greece government refuses IMF request to layoff thousands of civil workers

Greece has rejected a last-minute IMF demand for thousands of additional civil service layoffs, a finance ministry source said on Tuesday ahead of a crucial eurozone meeting to debate loan relief for Athens.

The global lender on Monday called for 22,000 extra job cuts by 2014 in addition to the massive state payroll scaleback agreed with Greek authorities, part of a raft of reforms enacted in return for EU-IMF bailout loans.

"The government has categorically refused," the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Eurozone finance ministers are meeting later on Tuesday to discuss whether loan payments to Greece are to resume after a five-month hiatus brought by reform delays and a protracted electoral campaign in Athens.

The country has been waiting since June for an instalment of aid worth 31.2 billion euros ($40 billion), part of a 130-billion-euro financial assistance package that was initially granted early this year.

By the end of the year, Greece is also due to receive two more aid payments, worth 5.0 and 8.3 billion euros, in exchange for which it has pledged to implement a series of unpopular austerity budget measures.

This includes a pledge to reduce the state payroll by 125,000 people by 2016, including 27,000 posts in 2014, at a time when unemployment has already climbed to over 25 per cent of the workforce according to official figures.

The union of local council workers POE-OTA has begun a nationwide mobilisation to stop the layoffs. Union members have occupied scores of town halls around the country to prevent officials from launching the process.

A number of mayors oppose the layoffs on the grounds of insufficient staffing, including those of Athens and Thessaloniki.

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