Some quarters are churning the rumour mill, deliberately misleading the public with grossly inflated estimates about the cost to taxpayers from a court decision court reversing civil servants’ pay cuts, trade unions alleged on Thursday.
“Public opinion is being deceived that the decision will cost €5bn, coupled with scaremongering that this would amount to a new Memorandum of Understanding [bailout] with the International Monetary Fund,” said Glafcos Hadjipetrou, head of the main civil servants union Pasydy.
He was speaking at a news conference called by several syndicates in a bid, as they said, to set the record straight.
In actuality, Hadjipetrou said, the cost to the state from the administrative court’s decision is realistically around €800m over the next four years.
The exaggerated numbers being floated are intended to pit one group of workers against another, he claimed.
In a March 29 ruling, the administrative court ruled that a freeze of incremental pay rises, a 3 per cent contribution to pensions, and a reduction in civil servants’ pay was in violation of article 23 of the constitution regarding the protection of the right to property. As such the pay reductions were deemed invalid and the applicants are entitled to compensation.
The state will appeal the decision with the supreme court.
Various estimates have been offered on how much the decision might cost the state. The most conservative scenario sees a few million euro as immediate backpay compensating only those civil servants who sued; €200m as immediate backpay to the applicants only, plus the additional costs arising over time from restoring full salaries to all civil servants; or €1bn over time for restoring the pre-2012 salaries of all civil servants.
According to Hadjipetrou, despite the pay reductions during 2013 and 2013 civil servants had refrained from taking industrial action, sensing that the country was in a difficult spot financially.
The trade union boss said that in their opinion, retroactive compensation should apply only to those who went to court and won, and not to all civil servants. This view is shared by the attorney-general, who will be appealing the court ruling.
But, he added, should certain individuals wish to demand retroactive compensation for all civil servants, it is up to them.
In the meantime, and although a definitive court ruling on the matter is pending, one union is already gathering signatures for a petition demanding that their pay cuts be refunded (added to their current salaries) beginning next month.
The union in question is Oelmek, representing secondary school teachers. Another teachers syndicate, Poed, is likewise considering the same move.