Greek civil servants have taken to the streets in Athens to protest layoffs and job transfers that are part of a bailout agreement between the government and its international creditors.
On Thursday, police officials reported that approximately 1,500 protesters, mostly teachers and ministry employees, marched in the capital, carrying banners that read, “No layoffs, no transfers,” and “All together in the battle against layoffs.”
Earlier in the day, the Education Ministry said a total number of 3,495 secondary school teachers of non-priority subjects are to be transferred either to primary schools or to administrative posts.
“This is a major blow to secondary education,” said Eleni Zografaki, a member of teachers™ union Olme.
“Foreign language teaching has been reduced, courses have been abolished and teachers’ workloads have increased by two hours per week to cover the gaps that have emerged,” she added.
The move by the government is part of an overhaul of the public sector demanded by the troika of international lenders — the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund — to release financial aid to the country.
On Monday, the Greek government approved the redeployment of an additional 8,100 public workers.
This was the second group of workers that were put into the labor reserve, the first one in July included 4,200 teachers, school guards and janitors.
On July 17, Greek lawmakers passed a deeply resented austerity bill tied to the country’s next tranche of loans from foreign creditors.
By the end of this year, 25,000 civil servants must be redeployed and an additional 4,000 fired under the terms of the recent bailout package, which will grant the country ‚6.8 billion ($8.7 billion) in rescue loans.
Athens was granted a 110-billion-euro ($145 billion) bailout by the troika in May 2010.
Another 130-billion-euro ($170 billion) rescue package was approved in February 2012.
The Greek Finance Ministry said in July that almost 23 percent of the country™s pensioners and employees lived under the poverty level in 2012.
Greece, which is in its sixth straight year of recession, has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis, and the harsh austerity measures adopted by the Greek government have put about half a million people out of work.