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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-12-08
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Mass Transport 24h Strike-Chaos in the StreetsWednesday, 08 December 2010 08:26
Employees in all means of mass transport- blue and trolley buses, electric train, metro, tram, suburban and Hellenic railways trains- have called a 24-hour strike in protest against reforms in mass transport. Traffic chaos prevails in most large avenues and roads in Athens.
Traffic Chaos in the Streets
Traffic chaos prevails almost in all central roads in Attica. Particularly increased is the traffic in Vouliagmenis, Mesogeion, Kifisias, Syggrou and Athinon avenues. Traffic jam was also reported in streets around Athens center ring as odd and even numbers measure is not in force today due to the strike.
Employees in Thessaloniki mass transport buses are staging work stoppage from 21:00 till the end of the night shift.
Bank Employees Federation has also announced a three hour work stoppage from 12:00- 15:00 while Agriculture Bank employees are staging a 24-hour strike in protest against changes in collective labour contracts.
Refuse Collectors on Strike
Furthermore refuse collectors working for Athens Municipality have also called a strike requesting settlement of issue concerning some 780 temporary contract employees.
Interior Minister blamed the outgoing municipal authority for not announcing recruitment, describing it as inexcusable negligence.
"There will not only be problem in Athens but also in all other municipalities", said outgoing Athens mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, adding that the issue of temporary contract workers will be discussed at today's KEDKE meeting.
Source: ÍÅÔ 105.8
News item: 51104
 Reforms in Labour Rights DefinedWednesday, 08 December 2010 16:51
Employment Minister Louka Katselis, in her meeting with the President of the Republic, called social partners to agree with reforms in labour rights. The final plan to be approved by the Ministers' Council on Thursday provides for prevalence of company contracts against trade unions' contracts but does not refer specific percentage for salary reductions as dictated by the memorandum.
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Waiting for Troika's Response
Reforms in labour rights providing for implementation of special contracts in loss-making businesses have been defined.
Employment Minsiter Louka Katselis, who is waiting for Troika's response to the text she has submitted, briefed the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on the coordinated actions to secure job positions and income during these difficult circumstances.
Reports say that trade union contracts will be in force in companies that are not facing financial problems while special contracts with cuts in salaries without highest ceiling will be signed in loss-making companies provided they will maintain job positions.
Sources: ÍÅÔ - ÍÅÔ 105.8 - ÁNA/ÌPA
News item: 51343
 Radical Reforms for DEKOWednesday, 08 December 2010 16:04
Draft-bill providing for radical reforms in Public Utility Companies (DEKO), will be presented to the Ministers' Council on Thursday. Changes are expected to include ceiling on employees salaries and incorporation of entitlements to the basic salary. There will be cuts in bonuses, overtime work, reduction of salaries of Administration Board members while lowest salaries will be protected.
End to High Salaries
Finance Ministry draft-bill puts an end to high salaries and labour privileges employees in DEKO companies enjoy. The target is to achieve drastic cuts in deficits through reductions in salaries and changes in labour relations and operation of the companies.
"We all know the real situation in DEKO companies cultivated for several decades and which worsened the last six years of ND party governance at the expense of Greek people. We know about the huge privileges for some employees but which we could not tolerate as we speak of social justice. Within the effort to rationalize DEKO operation we are trying to balance salaries to approach Greek salary standards thus reduce expenses", said government spokesman George Petalotis who added that the government was prepared to crash with many decades ill-doings which reached their peak during ND governance.
According to reports changes include:
Ceiling on salaries not to exceed â¬ 45.000-â¬50.000 yearly income
Incorporation of entitlements to bring 40% reduction in income.
Protection of lowest salaries worth â¬1.600-â¬1800 monthly
Transfer of employees to other departments in the public sector.
Already 2011 state budget does not provide for loans with state guarantee. Procedures for submission of taxation and opening of "closed professions" draft-bills have been also accelerated within effort to meet timetable dictated by the memorandum.
Sources: ÍÅÔ - ÍÅÔ 105.8 - ÁNA/ÌPA
News item: 51337
 Papandreou: "Big Structural Reforms in 2011"Wednesday, 08 December 2010 14:17
Prime-minister G. Papandreou, in his speech at an event entitled "Greece of extroversion, national strategy for exports" organized by the Regional development Minister, spoke of the government's determination to promote big reforms in 2011. Mr. Papandreou stressed that the country's huge possibilities can help the government's efforts to exit from the financial crisis. He added that the government targeted for a country without bureaucracy, feuds and mediators. Minister for Development Mihalis Hrisohoidis announced the operation at the first quarter in 2011 of a special fund-with initial capital worth 70 million euros- to support export companies.
PM Sends Message of Extroversion and Optimism
Addressing an event organized by the Regional Development Ministry, the Prime-minister underlined the government's determination to proceed to further structural reforms in 2011.
"In 2010 we made many structural reforms and we will continue more dynamically in 2011 for a Greece of hope not fear which will face the future without loans and monitoring", said the Prime-minister.
"We must turn the crisis into opportunity" said Papandreou underlining the importance of initiatives by businessmen themselves, adding that the state would assist them in their effort by eliminating long-standing obstacles such as "feuds, bureaucracy and by reversing the view that a citizen or a businessman is a suspect".
"Within this frame we are heading towards 2011 aiming at big changes in bureaucracy, administration of justice and reforms in the education system", said G. Papandreou.
Mr. Papandreou asked for the cooperation of exporters to deal with difficult issues such as reduction of taxes requested by companies but laid combat of tax evasion as precondition.
"We want lower taxes, which is the basic request of businessmen but combat of tax evasion is a necessary prerequisite to broaden tax scale and restore justice as the state bears the responsibility of proper management", he said.
"Greece has huge capabilities and we are not facing the financial crisis because we could not have a better country but because we did not utilized them or better we downrated them which adds to our responsibilities for the future. We must build a better Greece and hope that we can even achieve miracles, not only for political reasons but to attract investments and upgrade our country's credibility", Mr Papandreou said.
Regional development Minister Mihalis Hrisohoidis presenting the national strategy to support exporters, expounded its three main axes: creation of Greek trademark to certify quality, set up of fund for export companies with capital worth 70 million euros and fast implementation of program with 30 million capital from ESPA program.
Sources : ÍÅÔ - ÍÅÔ 105.8 - ÁNA/ÌPA
News item: 51324
 Straus Khan: "Greece on the Right Track"Tuesday, 07 December 2010 20:28
International Monetary Fund chief, Dominique Straus Khan delivered a speech at the Parliament Economic Affairs Committee on Tuesday Afternoon. He said that Greece's fiscal stability program was on the right track, underlining that growth would create job positions and bring economic recovery. Referring to extension of the 110 billion euros loan repayment, Mr. Khan said it could be achieved without extra cost.
Furthermore he said wages should be in line with productivity and disengaged extension of the loan's repayment with dictation of new terms. He went on to say that cuts in salaries and pensions was a painful measure but there was no other alternative but stop of payments as Greece was at the edge of the cliff.
He repeated his optimism that the difficult mission, as he described it, would be crowned with success if economic stability program continues. Finally, he said the broader support to the program the better and cited that ND deputies should support the memorandum.
IMF chief among others said: "Greece was at the edge of the cliff when it resorted to IMF in May. The success of the program is linked with the degree of justice it inspires to people. All must realize the circumstances and each one assume his share of responsibility. You must show that all people are participating in this national effort. The 110 billion euro loan will be sufficient for Greece if the situation develops according to plan. Recovery of growth is expected at the end of 2011" .
In response to intervention by the Economic Affairs Committee president Vaso Papandreou intervention regarding high unemployment rate in the youth group and their emigration Mr. Khan said: "Youth emigration is an issue seen in many countries. It is important to create incentives because when they repatriate they would have gained experience. I understand their desperation that leads them to emigrate. However, when normality and growth is restored, they will return".
Finally commenting on protests against measures he said: "If I were Greek I might be in the streets myself".
GCP and SYRIZA political parties did not attend the session of the Parliament Economic Affairs Committee. Mr. Straus Khan met with the Speaker of the House Philipos Petsalnikos before delivering speech to the Greek Parliament.
In an exclusive interview with state channel NET, IMF chief underlined that extension of loan repayment did not imply additional measures.
Sources: ÍÅÔ, ÍÅÔ 105.8
News item: 51081