Greece’s parliament has approved reforms making it easier to sack thousands of public sector workers, clearing the way for the receipt of a $9.2 billion tranche of bailout money.
Members of parliament voted 153 to 140 in favour of the most contentious parts of an austerity bill early on Thursday. The reforms will loosen rules on sacking public workers, whose jobs are currently protected by the constitution.
A total of 12,500 civil servants, including teachers and police, face reassignment or the sack by the end of the year, with a further 15,000 facing the same options next year.
The cuts will pave the way for more financial assitance from the country’s “troika” of creditors – the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and European Commission – to prop up its failing economy.
‘Better days ahead’
In a television address before the vote, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said: “Better days will come for our people. We will not let up. We will climb uphill and reach the end, which is not far.”
But municipal workers, union members and supporters continued their protest outside the Greek parliament in Athens on Wednesday night.
About 3,000 demonstrators were joined by opposition MPs and mayors.
“All in all, we are saying that we cannot accept any more lay-offs at this difficult time in the country’s economy,” Costas Askounis, the head of a national mayor’s association, said during the protest.
Staff targeted in the cuts staged a fourth straight day of protests.
Athens has imposed a series of wage cuts, redundancies and tax rises at the behest of its creditors in return for bailouts worth more than $315bn since 2010. However, the country’s recession has deepened and is now in its sixth year, with a 27 percent unemployment rate.