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Samaras Gets Backing for Greek Job Cuts Ahead of Loan Approval

Samaras Gets Backing for Greek Job Cuts Ahead of Loan Approval
A road cleaner uses a broom to sweep the pavement outside the Greek parliament building on Syntagma Square in Athens. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Greek lawmakers passed a bill including plans to fire 15,000 workers by the end of next year as the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras cleared the latest hurdle to receiving international aid payments.

A total of 168 lawmakers voted in favor of the law, 123 against and one cast a “present” vote, Parliament Speaker Yannis Tragakis said in remarks carried live on state-run Vouli TV after a roll-call vote.

Greece’s government and international creditors reached an agreement on conditions to receive more aid, including firing state workers and extending a property tax paid through electricity bills for another year, on April 15, paving the way for the disbursement of the 2.8 billion euros ($3.7 billion) remaining from a previous review. Final approval for the payment of the tranche by the euro area is due today, according to Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.

A group of about 1,000 protesters rallied outside Parliament in Athens while the vote was held to protest against the bill. It’s the first time the Greek government has agreed to dismiss workers employed by the state.

Identifying redundant positions and adopting a system that will lead to mandatory exits for about 150,000 civil servants by 2015 is a requirement of the euro area and IMF, which have pledged a total of 240 billion euros to Greece over the past three years. Stournaras said April 16 the public sector workforce will decline by 160,000 people by 2015, meeting the minimum required.

Samaras told his Cabinet last week that outstanding issues to receive the next tranche of 6 billion euros in three weeks’ time are being completed. Greece is expecting approval for that payment on May 13, Stournaras said on April 27, to be able to pay a bond held by the European Central Bank which matures on May 20.

More than three years after revealing that Greece had misled its euro partners on the state of its finances, the nation remains reliant on loans from the euro area and the IMF to pay pensions and wages. To qualify for payments, Greece has to continue meeting economic targets.

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