Greece to Cut 15,000 State Jobs

Article excerpt

ATHENS, Greece -- Greece's government said Monday that it will cut 15,000 state jobs this year, part of new austerity measures it must adopt to secure new debt agreements and rescue funds from international lenders.

Athens is racing to push through economic changes that will persuade its lenders to release 130 billion euros, or $170.5 billion, in new bailout funds to avoid defaulting on its bond payments in March.

The talks, which focus on bringing Greece's debt burden down to a manageable level, are taking place against a backdrop of a deteriorating Greek economy that is causing the country's debt burden to rise, as austerity measures cut into the potential for economic growth.

Greece's debt rose to 159.1 percent of its gross domestic product in the third quarter of 2011, from 138.8 percent a year earlier, according to data released Monday by Eurostat, the European Union statistical agency.

Public-sector layoffs have long been a taboo subject in Greece, since the constitution protects state workers from being fired. So any cuts need to happen through attrition or eliminating positions.

The Greek administrative reform minister, Dimitris Reppas, announced the job cuts but did not provide details on how they would be carried out.

Anticipating a new barrage of austerity measures, including wage cuts in the private sector, the country's two main labor unions called a 24-hour general strike for today. The strike is expected to disrupt transport and other public services. Three separate protest rallies have been planned for central Athens alone. …