The Greek parliament voted late on Sunday to adopt a law that provides for the dismissal of 15,000 civil servants as part of austerity measures imposed by the country’s international creditors.
After heated debate, 168 deputies voted for the bill, with 123 voting against and one abstaining.
The new law will overturn what had been a guarantee for workers in Greece’s notoriously bloated civil service of a job for life.
Around 800 people turned up outside the parliament to protest against the measure in a demonstration called by trade unions.
The bill provides for the dismissal of 15,000 civil servants by the end of next year, including 4,000 this year, to meet conditions set by Athens’ creditors for billions in bailout loans.
Civil service trade confederation Adedy condemned what it called the “politicians who are dismantling the public service and destroying the welfare state”.
Private union GSEE said the bill would only worsen Greece’s dire unemployment rate, which currently stands at 27 per cent.
Slashing an unwieldy public service is a condition set by Greece’s so-called “troika” of creditors – the International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank – to unlock loans 8.8 billion euros (HK$88 billion).
The EU and the IMF have committed a total of 240 billion euros in rescue loans since 2010, with the heavily indebted country obliged to pursue austerity measures in exchange for the international aid it needs to avoid bankruptcy.
The new law will speed dismissal procedures, which previously made it impossible to sack civil servants and saw the public sector swell over the years as every new administration brought in its own people.
The new law also extends weekly working hours for teachers, opens a number of professions to competition and reduces a controversial property tax by 15 per cent.